By Major Van Harl
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- Dad was in the Navy, during Christmas we were seldom back home. We spent our holidays in different states, sometimes rather alone. We spent Christmas over seas in a number of foreign lands. Christmas was never conducted according to a civilian plan.
No going over to Grandma's house, to eat a Christmas meal. In 20 years we got there twice, that was a major deal. We would drive a thousand miles, to be there Christmas Eve. Days later it was time to go, dad was out of military leave.
We would drive all night to get back, to the Naval base. This ended yet another, cross-country Christmas race. Finish our favorite holiday food, crackers with cheese dip, Dad would drive out to the pier, to sign back-in to the ship.
We all loved going onboard ship for a holiday meal. My sisters ate all the shrimp that they could peel. I would talk to the mess-cooks standing in the chow line. Dependent meals on shipboard were always a magical time.
During my Air Force career I got home for Christmas only a time or two, But my Air Force spouse made a holiday of white, not of Elvis blue. Christmas dinner was with our GI friends, who could not get “home,” Sometimes over twenty, no one was left alone.
G.I. s and sailors are your family when stationed far from home. In my day no e-mail and in most cases you couldn't even phone. Christmas cards went early, because of the long homeward flight. Anyone's holiday mail was a G.I. shared delight.
Cards, pictures and cookies enjoyed with a Marine cohort. Moments later defending the line; Christmas can be rather short. War doesn't stop for the troops because of a national holiday. Even on the 25th someone is earning their combat pay.
Now I am an old retiree sitting back in my rocking chair. But my wife is still active duty performing the mission out there. We are always on the move, from air base to air base, In my old age, this military stuff, keeps picking up the pace.
We're at a comfortable “state-side” base this winter holiday. Somewhere a troop is earning, Christmas hazardous-duty pay. Please take care of “your” sailor, marine or G.I. this holiday season. To appreciate your troops never needs a reason.
We are at an Air Force base, out west this Christmas year. No grandparents, no siblings, not even my in-laws are here. It's another military holiday and we are far from “home.” But I have my wife, my daughter and the dogs–we are not alone.
We choose to be in a military, that on holidays takes us far and wide. But we serve our nation, maybe even with a little selfish pride. We are doing something right for this wonderful homeland. She is a military woman and I am a military man.
Enjoy this holiday season, remember who keeps you safe at home. Think of the Sailor, Marine or G.I. out there feeling quite alone. They choose to be there, even on Christmas night. Support your troops, what they do for this country, is indeed right.
Thanks to veterans who have done military Christmas in the past. The new troops continue the tradition, to make our freedom last. Sleep well this Christmas Eve, at home in your warm bed. To our military, defending the nation, full speed ahead.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army Infantry School. A retired Colorado Ranger and currently is an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Cudahy PD in Milwaukee County, WI. His efforts now are directed at church campus safely and security training. He believes “evil hates organization.” [email protected]