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Another Missed Christmas

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. George Johnson
  • 311 Airlift Squadron commander
To all of us, AMC is the Air Mobility Command, but to some, it is also means "Another Missed Christmas."

There are few who haven't been away for the holidays during their career, regardless of their major command. My young brother-in-law is at Lackland Air Force Base attending basic training right now. Though he only enlisted weeks ago, he is already on track to miss his first Christmas.

He surely won't have a holiday season like those previously enjoyed, and it is up to others in his new Air Force family to make the season memorable in other ways.

Yes, the holidays are traditionally a time to get together with family and friends; break from school or work and socialize with those who matter most; to open presents during Hanukkah or Christmas; a time to sing carols and drink hot apple cider or eggnog.

There really is something special, if not magical, about the holiday season that is nearly impossible to replicate any other time of year.

However, with today's technology, we can bridge the distance from our office and virtually any other location. Communicating with friends, family and colleagues has been transformed in the last decade, especially since the "stone ages" of the 1990's when I joined the Air Force.

I experienced this first-hand on my most recent holiday deployment two years ago. Armed with a WiFi connection and a laptop I was still able to enjoy some of my familiar holiday traditions. On Christmas Eve, I watched my wife and kids open presents around a Christmas tree that was over 2,000 miles away from me. In many ways, I felt like I was in the living room with them.

This year, I am fortunate to be home for the holidays and, as I approach retirement next summer, it is likely that I won't have "Another Missed Christmas." Still, I can't help but think about all of our friends, family and colleagues who don't share the same circumstance. I know that the mission must come first. It comes with the uniform. We all volunteered to serve our country and were never given a clause that guaranteed us to be home for all special occasions.

This holiday season, as you enjoy time with friends and family, also reach out to military comrades serving away from home. It is amazing how a small gesture can positively affect the morale of those deployed. It is up to all of us, not solely commanders and first sergeants, to communicate our appreciation for their sacrifice.

There is a lot that we can do to meet this objective:

· Lead a unit-wide effort to send a care package
· Forward holiday cards to the TDY or deployed location
· Facilitate Skype access at your unit's holiday functions
· Get 10 or more co-workers to send a friendly email over the holidays

These may seem like the kinds of things you would do for a family member that is away for the holidays. Remember that this is our Air Force family and it is our shared responsibility to make this season more than just "Another Missed Christmas."