Patriotic Article
Military

Soldiers' Holiday
by Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks - January 10, 2012

Dec. 21, 2011- Pfc. Rilley Krebsbach (left), infantryman, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his squad, practice firing techniques four days before Christmas on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. Krebsbach is a part of a firing party which rendered honors to fallen service members over the holiday season. Photo by Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks
Dec. 21, 2011- Pfc. Rilley Krebsbach (left), infantryman, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and his squad, practice firing techniques four days before Christmas on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. Krebsbach is a part of a firing party which rendered honors to fallen service members over the holiday season. Photo by Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks

 WASHINGTON (1/6/2012) -- 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) soldiers, share their experiences of being with and away from family for the first time during the holiday season.

Last year, Sgt. Cameron Hayes spent the holidays deployed on a small forward operating base in Afghanistan halfway around the world from his wife and four children.

“We had no choice but to celebrate all of the holidays over the phone and on the computer,” said Hayes.

This year, however, Hayes, a firing party commander, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), served his country during the holidays a little closer to home.

“I've missed many birthdays, anniversaries and Christmases over the years,” said Hayes. “Now I get a chance to do all the little things like putting the tree together, hanging lights on the house and wrapping presents with my wife and kids.”

As a firing party commander, Hayes is responsible for the precision and execution of a seven-man firing squad which render final honors during funeral ceremonies in Arlington National Cemetery, Va.

“It is an honor to command a team that honors the fallen [service members] the way we do, said Hayes. “Even though we practice for countless hours, I am happy to be in a unit where I can go to a store to finish my Christmas shopping and then go home every night to my family.”

Hayes credits his wife for remaining strong through all the times and distances their family has been apart.

“It was my wonderful wife Brandie that literally held everything together during my deployments,” said Hayes. “When you have someone like her to carry such a large load, it helps.”

It was just the opposite for Pfc. Riley Krebsbach, infantryman, Charlie Company, who usually spends his holidays eating mom's home-cooking in Evansville, Ind.

“Being stationed [on Joint Base Myers-Henderson Hall, Va., will be my first Christmas away from home in 22 years,” said Krebsbach.

Krebsbach explained that being over 700 miles away from his family doesn't mean that he is without people who care for him during the holidays.

“I know that my parents are proud of me and will miss me around the house this holiday, but the friends I've made in my unit have cared for me like family,” Krebsbach said. “We help each other out with our uniforms and getting ready for different missions. This is a great place to be stationed because there is just so much stuff to do.”

For Krebsbach, working during the holidays has also given him a better understanding of the true measure of the ultimate sacrifice.

“No matter what time of year it is, we take our job very seriously. I realize what we do is for the families,” Krebsbach said confidently. “Yeah it would be great to be home, but for that soldier and their family who we are honoring during this time of year, it means the world.”

By Army Sgt. Luisito Brooks
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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