Airman helps troops connect with families during holidays

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rachel Martinez
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
An Airman here came up with two specials ways to help deployed Airmen connect with their families during the holiday season.

Senior Airman Marco Palacios, a services technician deployed from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., offered to videotape holiday greetings and readings of "A Night Before Christmas" for Airmen at Bagram Airfield. 

He turned these recordings into a DVD for Airmen to mail home. He also took photos of Airmen with Santa and created e-cards for them to send to their friends and family.

"One of the things I wanted to emphasize is morale," said Airman Palacios, from Reno, Nev. "They are away from their families. I tried to do something so they can feel close to their families."

With the help of the civil engineer squadron, the services troops created a holiday-themed backdrop. With a little advertising, Airman Palacios downloaded different versions of "A Night Before Christmas," set up his camera and waited for people to show. More than 130 people recorded personal greetings and readings of the book, and nearly 300 had their picture taken with Santa.

"Mostly people with families showed up to do it," Airman Palacios said. "A lot of people said their families are going to watch their video Christmas Eve night."

While more people posed for a photo with Santa, they weren't so willing at first.

"People are shy or some people think they are too old for a picture with Santa," Airman Palacios said. "But once one person did it, they would see them excited and getting into it, then they would want to do it too. We had whole work places do it. Especially the people with kids; they wanted to tell their kids that they saw Santa in Afghanistan."

Whether or not people felt a little old or silly, the DVDs and e-cards were greatly appreciated by those who participated.

"We can't be there, but it's a great opportunity to let our families know how we're doing and wish them the best," said Master Sgt. Amado Azua, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group first sergeant, who read "A Night Before Christmas" for his family back at Shaw AFB, S.C. "It makes them feel like we're there with them in spirit."

Airman Palacios said listening to all the heartfelt greetings and receiving so many words of appreciation made him realize how important it is to help Airmen connect with their families over the holiday season.

"Seeing them smile is like a paycheck for me," he said. "We are all far away from our home and our families. This is the least I can do for them." 

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