View Full Version : Cameras roll for holiday messages

09-16-03, 05:12 AM
Cameras roll for holiday messages

By Rick Emert, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Monday, September 15, 2003

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — While it may seem odd for soldiers to be standing in 100-degree weather in mid-September offering season’s greetings, come Christmastime the messages will mean the world to their families in the States.

The Army and Air Force Hometown News Service is recording the holiday greetings at the U.S. air bases in Kandahar and Bagram this week, and then moving on to Iraq next week, according to Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Posten, team leader for the three-man Southwest Asia team.

The team, which also includes Staff Sgt. Peter Rimar and Spc. Luciano Vera, is also going to Kuwait and the African country of Djibouti, Posten said.

For 20 years, Hometown News has been recording holiday greetings from soldiers deployed or stationed overseas, collecting about 15,000 messages annually, Posten said.

“This is a chance for the soldiers to say hi to their families back home,” he said.

The teams — there are two others, in the Europe and Pacific regions — record the greetings in September, then start distributing them to anxious local stations when they return to their base in San Antonio, Texas.

“The television stations usually [air] them during their local newscasts,” Posten said. “They know we produce them in September, so they start calling us asking where the messages are.”

And the families really do see the messages.

“It really made my family feel good,” Staff Sgt. Marvin Washington said of the message he sent last year, right after recording one for this holiday season. “My mom saw it and called everyone she knew.”

Washington, a member of the 274th Military Police Company from the Washington, D.C., National Guard, said he got to see a videotaped version of last year’s greeting.

“It was kind of goofy, because I looked a little nervous and camera shy, but my family didn’t care about that,” he said.

The program both boosts soldier morale and caters to families of deployed soldiers.

“It gives the soldiers and airmen an opportunity to get a message back home,” Posten said. “But this is for families, too. It lets them know where their sons and daughters are. To see them during the holiday season means a lot to them.”