SALAH AD DIN PROVINCE, IRAQ
SALAH AD DIN PROVINCE, Iraq - Even though they are deployed thousands of miles away from home, the spirit of Christmas was not lost in Iraq among Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan.
"Dragon" brigade Soldiers located on various forward operating and patrol bases throughout the Salah ad-Din Province celebrated Christmas with holiday services and activities, Christmas caroling and a dinner.
For Spc. Robert Boss, of Hayward, Wis., and an infantryman with Company B, 1-28 Inf., the holiday is also a day for relaxation and spending time with his family.
"I am staying connected with my family this holiday season by sending Christmas cards to my mother, father and to all my nieces," said Boss. "I am still taking part with my family's gift exchange this year."
Soldiers across the brigade found different ways to stay connected with their Families this holiday season.
Staff Sgt. Thomas J. O'Brien, III, of Brownsville, Pa., the intelligence noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th IBCT, has deployed several times since Operation Desert Storm and has seen firsthand how technology has made the distance between him and his family seem much shorter during the holidays.
"Not only do you have cell phones, but you have satellite phones, internet connection and web cams," said O'Brien. "[The technology] has increased tremendously and no matter where you go, your family is there with you."
Staying connected the old fashioned way, Col. Henry A. Arnold, III, Lt. Col. Michael Lawson and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael S. McCoy, the "Dragon" brigade commander, deputy commander and top noncommissioned officer decided to spend the days leading up to Christmas visiting their Soldiers throughout the province.
At Contingency Operating Base Speicher, "Dragon" brigade Soldiers participated in a Christmas Door Decorating Contest and spread the joy of Christmas throughout the night on Christmas Eve by going from one unit's headquarters to another singing various traditional Christmas songs.
In Tuz, Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion enjoyed various holiday festivities like a Christmas movie marathon, contests and games.
"As my mother would say, [Christmas] is a time to remember the reason for the season," said Sgt. 1st Class Shantae Gordon, of Glen Allen, Va., and the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4-1 BSTB. "It's a time to celebrate Christ and [His] birth."
Being separated from family can be difficult for deployed Soldiers but across the brigade, Soldiers brought the joy of Christmas to Iraq and through today's technology, were able to remain close their families this holiday season.
"We have a lot of activities [planned]," Gordon added, "and it's my job to ensure that all of the Soldiers are taken care of and to make sure they're not inside feeling left out."
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This work, Dragon Brigade celebrates holidays in Iraq, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.