Bagram Airmen celebrate season

  • Published
  • By Capt. Michael Meridith
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen in Afghanistan found ways to celebrate the holiday season while providing continuous airpower and combat support for U.S. and coalition forces throughout the country. 

While family and friends back home marked the holiday season with gifts and celebrations, deployed Airmen in Afghanistan fueled, loaded, maintained and flew aircraft, while still others carried out critical expeditionary combat support and reconstruction missions. 

Despite the work, Airmen took some time for brief holiday celebrations, special meals and church services. But the commitment of Airmen to the mission did not go unnoticed, as senior leaders took time to visit and personally thank them for their service. 

"Thanks for keeping them flying," said Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill, the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. 

He visited F-15E Strike Eagle and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircrew and maintenance Airmen Dec. 24 here. 

"You continue to put steel in the air so we can put steel on the ground and protect our Soldiers outside the wire," he said.  

Support for Airmen was also voiced by Maj. Gen. Maurice H. "Maury" Forsyth, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command Air Forces. He visited Airmen deployed across Afghanistan Dec. 24 and 25. 

"Remember this Christmas with pride in the work that you do," he said. "Your job is to get the mission done -- and it is important. If it wasn't, you wouldn't be here." 

"It's a little bit depressing being away from home during the holidays," said Airman 1st Class Matthew Darrah, a 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron member and native of Strongsville, Ohio. "But my family thanks me and they are proud of what I am doing. It's a good feeling to serve." 

"What motivates me is that what I am doing is keeping my family safe back home," said Staff Sgt. Charles Knotts, a Garrett County, Md., native assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron. 

"It makes me feel proud to serve my country," said Airman 1st Class Anthony DeValentin, assigned to the 336th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit and a native of Brighton Beach, Mich. "I miss my family, but I know they are all proud of us serving here." 

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