Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Memories – Soldiers


Darrel was the first soldier I knew up close and personal. It was during Viet Nam and he stayed with us while he was home on leave. He was handsome, had dark hair, and drove a green mustang. He dated and married our pretty, blonde-haired neighbor, Nancy.

I liked Darrel. He was nice. He was forgiving. One day I was out riding bikes on the driveway and crashed my brother’s tricycle into the side of his new mustang and left a big dent. Mom told me I had to tell him myself. Darrel didn’t get mad. He didn’t yell. He didn’t even make me feel stupid. He just smiled and said it was okay and then rubbed the dent. Darrel left one of his army jackets at our house and I wore it often even though jungle green is not my color.

the stockings as seen through night vision goggles

Abe is ¾ of the way through his deployment to Iraq. In an effort to remember what she has versus what she has lost this Christmas, Grace is putting together a little stocking for each of the soldiers in Abe’s platoon. There is a deck of cards, a few little toys, candy, gum, and jerky in each stocking, but the thing that will make it the very best is something we need your help with. We’d like to put a personal little note to each soldier letting him know that there are people at home who appreciate him and his efforts and his willingness to sacrifice. Would you please, please, please help us? Here is a list of the soldier’s first names. All you need to do is pick a name and write a comment to him in the comments section of this post. We’ll print your comment, roll it up in a scroll, tie it with some ribbon and tuck it in the sock. Please sign your name so that it is more personal. And, if you want to write to Maverick or Phosy or Jerry but someone else already did, well . . . I can’t help but think Maverick, Phosy, and Jerry would love more than one note.

We need to get this package in the mail as soon as we can to make sure it gets to Iraq in time for Christmas, so if you’d like to send a note, please do it soon. (I realize this is short notice, but we didn’t get the idea until a few hours ago . . . and well . . . now is as good as ever and better than never, right?)

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your help in this project.

1LT Abe
SFC Keith
SSG Michael
SSG Christopher
SSG Phosy
SGT Eric
SGT Michael
SPC Luke
SPC Robert
SPC Anthony
SPC Jerry
SPC Ryan
SPC Travis
SPC Jeffrey
SPC Maverik
SPC Sheridon
SPC William
PFC Matthew
PFC Jason
PFC Mark
PFC Thomas
PFC Robert
PFC Travis



102 comments:

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Dear Abe,

Does it seem like Christmas there? Does hot chocolate even sound good?

We'll miss you this Christmas. I'll miss how excited you get when it's time to open presents. I'll miss you sitting in the blue chair with your feet up. I even think I'll miss the cardboard pizza you always request.

I do want you to know how grateful I am that you have a heart, mind, and hands that are willing to serve other people. I'm grateful you're brave. I appreciate that you are willing to sacrifice being away from comforts, home, and especially Grace. You have been asked to sacrifice a lot this first year and I'm grateful to you for being willing to put your needs behind others.

I love you. I'm proud of you. We're taking good care of Grace and put a pretty wreath on Clara's grave for you last week.

Merry, merry Christmas and much love, Abe . . . Mom

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

Dear SFC Keith,

I'm from Washington State and I just want you to know how much I appreciate you being willing to sacrifice your comforts, safety, and time with your family to protect America and help the people of Iraq to establish a democracy. I admire your willingness to put others needs before your own.

I hope you have a good Christmas. See if you can beat Abe in arm wrestling, will you? It's something his dad always does with him at Christmas and the tradition really should go on.

Thanks again Keith for serving us. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Much appreciation,
Jane Payne

melanie said...

Well, now that I'm tearing up after those two notes, I'll add one. You and Grace are a couple of the most amazing people I know. I'm blessed!

melanie said...

Dear SSG Micheal,

I know you don't know who I am but this holiday season, I wanted to send you a note to let you know how grateful I am for your service. Your service is selfless and honorable and one I completely admire. I can't imagine how hard it must be to be away from home and loved ones this time of year. I know sometimes it might feel like you are forgotten that far away but my family regularly prays for you, I hope you feel sustained.

I hope your holiday is filled with some cheer. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Washington State!

Thank you again.
Melanie Bushman

melanie said...

Dear SSG Christopher,

Happy Holidays! I am writing to let you know how much I admire your service and am grateful you protect this great land of America. It is a huge sacrifice to leave your family and loved ones, especially this time of year. Thank you for serving and helping others.

I hope this holiday season you feel uplifted by messages of hope and encouragement. My family prays for soldiers and their families, I hope you feel that strength in your life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Washington State.

In Gratitude,
Melanie Bushman

Anonymous said...

Dear SPC Jeffrey,

Merry Christmas from Arizona! My son's name is Jeffrey also and I wanted to say thank you for giving of yourself and your time and talents to help others. Please know that when I see my son this Christmas I will also be thinking of you and thanking you.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and get to be home, safe and sound very soon!

RH

Carolyn said...

Dear PFC Travis,

I'm an elementary school teacher in Provo, UT and I want you to know how much I appreciate your sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we so much enjoy. When we talk about being thankful in my classroom, I always have students say they are thankful for soldiers that are protecting us. You are a blessing.

I hope you have a happy Christmas time. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

With gratitude,
Carolyn Hirz

Ty said...

SPC Ryan,

Hi, I'm Lt. Payne's brother, Ty. I am currently at the Air Force Academy and I can't tell you how often I think of what the Army is currently doing in Iraq and the blessing it is to me. I greatly appreciate the sacrifices you are making at this time, especially during the holidays. Know that everything you are doing is appreciated and that you are admired by many.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Make sure you do something to make it special because you never know when you will get to celebrate it in Iraq again! Have a great day.

With Gratitude,
Ty Payne

Jay Spear said...

Dear PFC Thomas,

I am husband and father of four children. We live in Oklahoma City. Tonight we talked about you and what you are doing for us. We know you are making a great sacrifice.

It [is] possible to love people you have never met. We love you for your bravery. We love you for your dedication. We love you for your strength.

May The Great Creator look over you and your loved ones this season. May He preserve you! May He inspire you and protect you as you protect us and our way of life.

My love and respect,
Jay Spear
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Jack said...

Dear SPC Anthony
My name is Jack I'm 11 years old. I'M so glad that you are serving our country. I'm glad that you and others have kept the war over there. Have a very merry Christmas!!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas PFC Robert. I chose to write to you because my husband was PFC Robert in the Korean conflict over 50 years ago. Thank you for your service and for the time and the comforts of home which you are sacrificing to keep us safe and free. I'm sure he probably didn't always feel so at the time but my husband doesn't regret his time in the service and speaks of his growth as as person in those hard times. Also two of his buddies have been his closest of friends through the years. So in the "God forsaken" place that you're in may you be able to find some good that will stay with you through your life. I send a Granny's love and I will say prayers just for you at this Christmas season.

Chandra said...

Abe,
I want to thank you for your service to our great nation. I am sure it must be difficult being away from your sweet wife and family during the Christmas season. We pray for your safe return. May God bless you and all of those soldiers that so bravely serve our country.
Thank You.
Chandra Jackson

Chandra said...

SFC Keith,
I am from Moses Lake WA. I wanted to say thank you for your service to our country. May God bless you and keep you safe.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and that you know that there are people back home that appreciate your service so much.
Chandra Jackson

Chandra said...

SSG Michael,
I am from the state of WA. I wanted to take a moment to wish you a very Merry Christmas and to say thank you for your service to our country. I pray for all of the soldiers and their families. May God bless you and keep you safe. You are doing a wonderful thing. God Bless the USA.

Tiffany Fackrell said...

SGT Eric,
Whenever I think of those serving our country I get a little teary eyed. It truely is a HUGE sacrafice to be serving our country and I will be forever grateful for your service. You are Brave, Courageous, and Strong. Thank you for fighting for me and my family and for our freedoms. I hope this holiday season brings some joy into your life as you are so far from loved ones. I pray for your safety and pray you will feel the support from all of us back here in the U.S.A. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service!

I hope you have a merry Christmas!

All my Love,
Tiffany Fackrell
Washington State

Chandra said...

SSG Christopher,
Hello soldier. I am from Washington State. I wanted to take a moment to wish you a Merry Christmas and to thank you for your brave service to our country.
My son is named Christopher...and he is serving a mission in Mexico in one of the border states that is so dangerous. I know what it is like to have him so far away at Christmas. Please know that as I pray for his saftey each night I also pray for the safety of our troops and for their families. May God Bless you. Thank you for all you do to protect our freedom. Merry Christmas soldier.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SSG Phosy,
Hello Soldier. I am from the great state of WA. I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and to take this chance to say thank you for all you do to protect our freedoms back home. I appreciate your brave service to our great nation. I am sure it is very difficult to be away from home at Christmas. May the strength and love of those you serve with bring you peace during this holiday season. God Bless you soldier. Thanks again.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SGT Eric
Merry Christmas Soldier. I am from Washington State. I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and to thank you for serving our country. I pray for the safety of all our troops and for the families they have back at home. May God bless you and keep you safe.
My husband served in the army and my father in law was a WWII veteran. I have a special place in my heart for those who serve their country. Thanks so much.
Chandra Jackson

Chandra said...

SGT Michael
Merry Christmas Soldier. I hope that you are doing well. I am from the state of WA. and I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your brave service. I also want you to know that I pray for the saftey of our soldiers and I also pray for thier loved ones that they left behind. May God bless you Michael and keep you safe. You are a hero!
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC Luke,
Hello soldier. I am from WA state. I want to thank you for your willingness to serve our country. I am sure it is not easy being in Iraq for Christmas. I want you to know that there are people like myself back at home that pray for the safety of our soldiers. I also pray for you family. May God bless you and keep you safe and may God bless your family during your abscence. I hope you have a very merry Christmas. THank you for all you do to protect the freedoms that we enjoy in this great nation.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC Robert,
THANK YOU! I am so grateful for the service of wonderful soldiers like yourself that so willingly serve our country. You are in my thoughts and prayers...not just during this Christmas season....but always. May God bless you and keep you out of harms way. May God watch over your families back here at home. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Robert. I hope that somewhere in all that sand you can find some Christmas spirit. Thanks again for your service.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC Anthony,
Hello Soldier. I am from WA and I wanted to wish you a very merry Christmas. My husband served in the Army and although he served at peace time I know how difficult it can be being away from home as he would be gone extended periods on training missions. I appreciate your brave service to our country. I want you to know that I pray for our soldiers. I pray for your safe return home and I pray for your loved ones that are here. I hope you have a merry Christmas. Thanks again for your brave service to our great nation.

Chandra said...

SPC Jerry,
Hello Soldier. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas. Every time I see our beautiful flag or I hear the national anthem I get a lump in my throat and I pause to think about the brave service of soldiers like you. I am so grateful for our troops and I want to thank you for all you do to keep our country free. Your service to our nation is greatly appreciated. May God bless you and keep you safe. May God watch over your family while you are away. Merry Christmas Jerry.
Chandra

Cali said...

Dear PFC Mark,

I am from Seattle, and as you can expect it's raining here today. I work at a hospital here in Seattle as a nurse. I enjoy eating cold cereal, reading Calvin & Hobbes comics, and listening to other people talk about their life.

I do not know you personally, but I feel appreciation, gratitude and love for you. Your actions are personal to me, because you are defending what I hold very dear... my family, my country, my freedom. Your service and sacrifice is not going unnoticed. Thank you for your willingness and desire to put freedom above your own comfort. Thank you for deciding to serve our country and for doing what that commitment requires of you. Thank you for being a soldier.

May God will watch over you and your family this Christmas season and until you have safely returned. May he guide you and comfort you.

With deep respect,
Cali Follett
Seattle, WA

Chandra said...

SPC Ryan,
Hello. I am from the state of WA and I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas. I also want to take time to thank you for your service to our country. I know that it can not be easy to be away at Christmas. May God bless you soldier with peace at this time and may He continue to keep you safe. I pray for you and your family. I am so grateful for your service. Merry Christmas.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC Travis,
Hello soldier. Merry Christmas. I was so excited to see that Abe's wife was sending stockings and asking for notes to be put in them. I have a special place in my heart for those who serve their country as my husband was in the army. Thank you so much for your brave service. I pray for you and I pray for your family. May God Bless you soldier to be kept safe from harm. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you so much for all you do.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPF Jeffrey,
Merry Christmas soldier. I was so excited to get the opportunity to write a note to you and say THANK YOU for your service to our country. I appreciate all that you do over there in Iraq to ensure the saftey of all of us back home. You are doing a wonderful thing. Please know that you are in my prayers. I pray nightly for the soldiers and for their families back at home. May God watch over and protect you and may he bless your familiy in your absence. Merry Christmas Jeffrey...and thank you so much.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC Maverick
Merry Christmas soldier. How can I properly say thank you for what you do for our country. I appreciate your brave service. I know that it must be so very difficult to be away from home at Christmas. I want you to know that you are in my prayers. I pray for the saftey of all of our troops. May God bless you and keep you out of harms way. May God bless your family back at home with peace during this holiday season. Once again....thank you so much...and have a Merry Christmas.
Chandra

Cali said...

GOOOOOOOOOO Chandra!

Savanna Spear said...

Dear PFC Thomas,
I am an 8th grader from Oklahoma. I want to thank you for the sacrifice you and many others have made for the sake of our freedom. Know that my family and I will be thinking of you.
Have a very merry Christmas!
-Savanna

Ande Payne said...

Dear SPC Sheridon,

My name is Ande, I'm 1LT Abe Payne's sister.

I just wanted you to know that although I do not know you personally, I am so grateful for you on a very personal level. I appreciate your willingness to sacrifice so much to protect our country and its ideals. I appreciate your willingness to be unselfish, to do good, to do what's right, and to serve others...millions of others you will never know. I appreciate the strength you are demonstrating. I appreciate you for protecting what others hold as so personal.

I hope you have a good Christmas. My mom told SFC Keith to please beat Abe in arm wrestling as it's a tradition our dad does every Christmas. I'll have to add the same request to you.

Thank you again Sheridon. I hope you know how much you are appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Merry Christmas.

With much gratitude,
Ande Payne

Deanna/Mimi said...

PFC Mark

I chose you Mark because my 4th son's name is Mark. I named him for the apostle Mark in the Holy Bible. When I think of the name, I think of a strong man who is brave, who has courage and who cares about others. That has to be you too. Where you are now at this time tells me so much about you. You are strong, have courage and you are there because you care. I want to thank you...me, an old grandmother who is impressed with those men and women who have chosen to protect my way of life and are assuring my grandchildren that they are safe because of you. Thank you for all you are doing to help our country, our people. I am sure you have family who wish you could be with them and yet they are so proud of you. May God bless you 24/7 and hold you close to him. May you finish your service in Iraq with honor, dignity and knowing you did a great job. I, my husband and my children and grandchildren honor you and we appreciate this sacrifice that you are making. May you feel the love from this grandma..may that love make you smile and know that our family and our country will always hold you in the highest esteem. God bless you Mark. Merry Christmas and may 2011 be a year of great things in your life.
Deanna
Moses Lake, Washington

Ande Payne said...

Dear SPC William,

I'm Ande, 1LT Abe Payne's sister. I just wanted you to know how much you are appreciated. Thank you for your service. And I mean service in the true sense of the form. Performing an act for others they cannot or will not do for themselves. It's something I am grateful for. I'm not only grateful for the work you do, but for you William. I am grateful for the type of man you must be to be willing to do something so unselfish. Thank you for devoting your life, for the moment, for our country.

I hope you have a Merry Christmas and can feel how much you are appreciated.

Thank you again and again and again.

With much appreciation,
Ande

Whidget said...

Sheridon:

My favorite Uncle's name is Sheridon. He goes by Sherry, and he's the manliest man I know. So much so that he can get away with cross stitching things. No one messes with someone who wrestles gators. (He's from Louisiana.)

Anyhow, on to your message. I'd like to think you're a little like my Uncle. My dad worked in Iraq for a long time--and Kuwait for a while too. He was a subcontractor, but it still gave me some appreciation for the sacrifice you men make and the danger you put up with to keep the rest of us free and safe.

I have two adorable little angels. I would literally walk barefoot across coals, stab someone in the eyes and ... well I am not that creative with dangerous things, but anything that I could imagine I would do to keep them safe. I am richly blessed because I live here in America, a country kept free and safe so that I don't have to do those things for them. You guys keep them safe and I am so grateful. (I doubt I'm very talented with combat, so it's probably good for the angels too.)

My family always has Chili and Clam Chowder for Christmas Eve. It's a tradition that comes from my husband's side, but I was thinking about it this year. They are foods that make you feel warm and safe. I hope someone makes you guys something special this year on Christmas. I hope you know that those of us back home are thinking of you during the holiday.

Merry Christmas! And give Abe a hug for me. (If you're close enough to do something like that) because he's my husband's cousin and we love him. He's had a rough year, but I know you guys support him just like you keep us safe.

Love and gratitude,

Bridget Baker

Whidget said...

Abe:

I am so sorry you had such a hard year. Whitney and I are pregnant again and I've been really grateful for how sick I've been because the last time I was pregnant and didn't get sick, we had a miscarriage. I know that going through what you have will give you and Grace special insight into your future and probably some very special insight into our Saviour.

I'm so grateful for Him, and His willingness to come to Earth and endure all He knew He had to endure just to help buoy us up with our trials and sorrows. At this time of year, I am so grateful for family. My dad has missed a Christmas or two while he was in Iraq. My family just bought him a matching shirt (we do a lot of cheesy crap like matching clothes) and photo-shopped him into the family photos. It was a good thing, because it was my brother Jesse's last Christmas with our family.

Rest assured your family will miss you and you'll be in many prayers this holiday season. I hope this comes out the right way, but I'm sure Clara will be with you and Grace both this year--a second miracle for enduring the loss you've dealt with. I like to think we're the unlucky ones; after all, Jesse and Clara are celebrating Christmas with Christ. The rest of us are all sort of celebrating the birthday by webcam. (From Afar, at least.)

I would be remiss if I didn't thank you for working so hard and being out there to protect America, to keep us safe and free, and to keep freedom alive in the world around us. I appreciate your sacrifices and your diligence. I'm glad to hear your tour is almost over and Grace will be back with you soon. I'm sure there will be a lot of rejoicing then.

Merry Christmas Abe! I hope you feel lifted up and strengthened by the Spirit of He whom we celebrate!

Love,
Cousin Bridget Baker (Whit's wife)

Chandra said...

SPC Sheridon
Merry Christmas. I was so excited when I heard that Abe's wife Grace was sending stockings to the soldiers and asking for anyone to send a note. I sat down and wrote to everyone on the list. I am so grateful for your service and for all you do for our country. I always remember the soldiers and their families in my prayers. I wish you an extra special Christmas. I know it is a huge sacrifice to leave your family and go to a war torn country. May God bless you and keep you out of harms way. May He give your family a blessing of peace and comfort while you are away. I live in Washington State and it looks like we will have a white Christmas. I bet it is difficult for it to feel like Christmas with the blowing sand. I wish I could share some of this snow. Thanks again for all you do.
Chandra

Chandra said...

SPC William,
Hello. I hope you are doing well. I am from WA state and I saw on a friends blog that she was sending a package to the troops and said we could write notes to go in the package. I was so excited to be a tiny part of it. It comes with love and gratitude from WA state. Thank you so much William for your brave service to our country. I think of the soldiers every time that I pass an American flag. You are a huge part of what makes our country so great. I get to appreciate so many freedoms because of people like you. I hope that you have a very merry Christmas William. I will pray for you. Enjoy the holiday.
Chandra

Chandra said...

PFC Matthew,
Hi Matthew. How are you? I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. I hope that your deployment is finished soon. I am so grateful to the brave men and women who serve our country. I truly appreciate your sacrifice. I am a substitute teacher and I love getting the chance to stand with the class and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I love this country and I'm proud to live in the United States of America. Thank you for all you do to protect our freedoms which we enjoy. I want you to know Matthew that I pray for the soldiers as well as your families. May God bless you and watch over you. Merry Christmas.
Chandra

katles said...

PFC Matthew,

My name is Katy Cabbage (yes, Cabbage, just like the vegetable...) and although I am currently living in Nebraska going to school, I am originally from Washington State.

I don't know how to say thank you for the sacrifice you are making on not only our country's behalf, but mine personally as well. I don't know how to express my appreciation for the time you are spending away from your loved ones and home, the career/life plans you are putting on hold, the incredible good you are doing to preserve our rights as a nation for now and for the future.

You are good, noble, and selfless. Thank you so much for all you are doing everyday, though it may seem mundane, it is incredibly heroic.

I look up to you--we all do. Keep up the good work, I will keep you in my heart and in my prayers.

And Merry Christmas,

Katy

Chandra said...

PFC Jason,
Hello Jason. I am from WA state. I am a friend of 1LT Abe Payne's mother. I was so excited to be able to write a few Christmas wishes to some of the soldiers that serve with Abe. I am so very grateful to you Jason for serving not only our country but for trying to protect and give freedoms to the people in Iraq. It can be a thankless job sometimes. I want you to know that I pray for you and for your safe return back home. I have so many blessings and freedoms that I get to enjoy because brave people like you sacrifice so many things to ensure those freedoms. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Chandra

Chandra said...

PFC Mark,
Hello Mark. Merry Christmas. I am sure it would be easier to feel like Christmas if you had some of the snow that has blanketed WA state. It really has looked like a winter wonderland. You don't have snow....but blowing sand...but I hope you still feel the spirit of Christmas over in Iraq. I want to thank you for your service to the country that I love so much. Thank you for all you do to protect our freedoms and to help the citizens of Iraq to become free as well. May God bless you Mark and you serve over there. I pray that you will be watched over and protected. I hope you have a happy new year and I hope you get to return home very soon. Merry Christmas....and thanks again.

Chandra said...

PFC Thomas,
Merry Christmas Thomas. I am happy to be able to have the chance to write you a note and thank you for your sacrifice and service. I wish I could share a little of the snow we have here in WA to give you a white Christmas. I bet it doesn't look much like Christmas over there. I hope you feel the spirit of Christmas and the love from everyone back home. Thomas, I always remember you in my prayers. I pray for all the troops and especially those that are serving away from home. May God bless you and keep you in His loving care. I pray for your family as well. Thank you so much for all that you do.
Chandra

Chandra said...

PFC Robert,
Hello Robert. I am from Washington State. I was excited that I got the chance to stick a little Christmas message in your stocking. I want you to know Robert that I appreciate your service to our great country so very much. I know that it is a great sacrifice that you are making. I get to enjoy so many freedoms because of people like you and people like my father in law that fought in WWII. I have a special place in my heart for those that serve. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas Robert. Please know that you are thought of back home and you are remembered in my prayers. May God bless you and keep you safe. Merry Christmas soldier.
Chandra

Alisa said...

Dear SPC Luke,

Merry Christmas!

I am a mom living in Oklahoma. I have four kids, (one girl and three boys.) My second son is named Luke. I love that name.

I am thankful that because of people like you I have no idea what it is like to live in fear. Thank you for your service. Thank you for being willing to be away from your family and go wherever you are sent.
Thank you for being who you are.

I pray for your safety and peace. I pray for your family.

I will be thinking of you on Christmas morning and will offer a prayer of thanks for your sacrifice as I hug my Luke.

Merry, Merry Christmas!
Alisa Spear

Chandra said...

PFC Travis,
Hello Travis. I hope you are doing well. I wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am from WA state. It looks like Christmas around here this year. I live in the desert and we don't usually have much snow but we look like a CHristmas card right now.
Travis, I want to thank you for your service to our country and for your service to those people in Iraq. WHat a wonderful sacrifice you are making to keep our country safe and to help to bring freedom the the people in Iraq. You are a hero to many. Travis, you are remembered in my prayers. I always pray for the safe keeping of the soldiers. I pray for your family that they will have peace while you are away. It is a wonderful thing that you are doing. May God bless you Travis. Have a merry Christmas. Sending good wishes from WA state. Thanks again so much.

Alisa said...

Dear 1LT Abe,

We do not know each other. But I feel like we do. I feel like you are a friends son. I know your Mom through her blog.

I appreciate your example. I am thankful for your strength. I am thankful for your sacrifice.

I have prayed for you and Grace this last year. I will continue to pray for your family. I will pray for love and peace to cross the many miles for you and Grace, that you will feel supported and lifted while you are apart.

Thank you again for who you are, and what you do.

Alisa Spear

melanie said...

Dear Abe,

With the small glimpse I've had into your life (from your amazing mother, no less), I've learned of your great strength. You are selfless, courageous, brave and very much supported from your sweet wife and loving family here at home. I know you've had much heartache this year and I know you've felt buoyed up from many prayers on your behalf. Those prayers continue, especially now this holiday season. How wonderful it is to celebrate His birth and know that through Him, all things are possible.

Here's hoping you win at least a couple arm wrestles (maybe all of them!), have a feeling of holiday in your heart and know how grateful my family is for you and your service. Thank you, thank you. We pray for soldiers and their families they are away from. May you feel that comfort from afar. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

With love,
Melanie Bushman

Anonymous said...

SSG Phosy

I live in the State of Washington......I am a veteran of the Viet Nam era.......I have a deep love for this country and for those who choose to serve and defend it........I want you to know that the majority of America feels the way I do........At this Christmas season know that you are missed and appreciated.......May God Bless you and your family.......Sincerely......Calvin Payne

Anonymous said...

1Lt Abe Payne

This is from your Dad..........I think you are Great.....I admire & respect who and what you are and what you and the other soldiers serving this country are doing......especially at this time of year........I love Grace and I love Clara and I know you miss them both.......they are in good hands......remember that I love you......thank you for serving our country...........love Dad

Ty said...

SGT Michael,

Hello! Hello! I hope this Christmas season is finding you well. I wanted to let you know that your service is much appreciated. A few years ago, I was away from family for Christmas and it was hard, but in looking back on it, it was one of the best ever because I found I had so many friends, and for me personally, the best one was Jesus Christ himself.

Thanks again for all that you do. At the Air Force Academy we are constantly reminded of the sacrifices that you (Army enlisted soldiers) make. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Ty Payne

P.S. Let me know if my brother isn't good to you.

Ty said...

SPC Robert,

How are you today? Merry Christmas! You had better not have gotten this early. :) I am LT Payne's younger brother and I am following in his footsteps (kind of) in that I will graduate from the Air Force Academy this next semester. As an member of the Air Force, I wanted to let you know that you are appreciated. Thanks for spending this Christmas away from family so that so many others can enjoy this wonderful blessing.

Again, Merry Christmas

Ty

Ty said...

SPC Jerry,

I'm LT Payne's little brother. I wanted to write you a qucik little note at this Christmas time. I hope you know that I greatly appreciate you serving so far away from family and friends. I know it is hard to be away from them, and yet you do it so willingly. Your service is an example to me and I hope I can carry it with me during my career in the Air Force.

Thanks,

Ty Payne

Ty said...

SPC Maverick,

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Can you believe it has come back around so fast (at least for me). I hope you enjoy your little stocking, but even more so than that, Ihope it lets you know that people are appreciative. Thanks for serving and maybe I'll see you someday in the service.

Thanks,

Ty

Ty said...

PFC Jason,

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. How are you enjoying Iraq? I've never been, and I hope to at least better understand it some day, so you should be grateful. :)

I am LT Payne's little brother and am currently a senior at the Air Force Academy. I look forward to having an opportunity to serve as you are. I hope I can do as well as you.

Thanks,

Ty

Ty said...

PFC Travis,

Good morning (for me, not you). I am writing this to wish you the best of Christmases. Try to make the most out of it. I know it is hard, but hold out strong just for a little longer. Your hard work is much appreciated and doesn't go unnoticed. I'm grateful that you are so willing to serve selflessly. It takes a special caliber of man or woman to do that, and I think you've got what it takes. Keep up the good work, you are in my prayets,

Thanks,

Ty

Maddie Jane said...

Dear PFC Jason,
I am a veterinarian living in Southeastern Oklahoma. I love this country, and am grateful to you for helping secure it. I am sorry that you aren't able to be home with your family at this Christmas time, but I want you to know I am so grateful to you for being where you are. A stable, secure Iraq - not in control of despots or evil men, is essential to our freedom. I believe it can be a beacon to the Middle East of Democratic freedom. This would make our world safer and especially those of us living here in this country. You and your fellow soldiers are important in this cause. I love our country's history of soldiers that have given this nation so much; from the First Continental Army to Y'all serving in the War on Terror.
Thank you and your family for your commitment and sacrifice, and a very Merry Christmas.
Sincerely,
Bert Ellsworth

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC William,
Merry Christmas!
Having just moved to Southeastern Oklahoma it's hard to feel that same Christmas mood without snow or cold weather; I can't imagine how hard it would be to feel the mood there. I empathize with you for also being away from friends and family this holiday season. In fact, I feel very humbled that sometimes my mood is hard to get when I think of you, over there. I appreciate your sacrifice, your willingness, servitude, and courage you have for your country and those who reside here.
Again, I wish you a heartfelt MERRY CHRISTMAS SPC WILLIAM!
(I had to google SPC because my army terminology is a little lacking.)
Sincerely,
Justin Ellsworth

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC Travis,
Merry Christmas! My name is Maddie and I am 12 years old. I love reading and knitting. I am very glad you are serving our country and I thank you for it. Even though I am on one land, and you are on another, I will be thinking of you, especially during the holidays. Because I might not even have Christmas if it weren't for people like you fighting for me. I also thank you for setting an example to me. Even though I don't know you personally, you have already taught me to stand up for what I believe in. I pray for you and thank you.
(and could you give my cousin Abe a big hug from me? And he can give you back one from me at the same time!)
Love,
Maddie Ellsworth

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC Maverik,
I've got to admit that since you have such a cool name it had a big influence on picking you to write to. Since I also have a unique name I thought it'd be at least one thing in common.
My name is Cache Ellsworth. I'm a Senior in High School and live in the small hick town of Bokchito, Oklahoma. I enjoy reading anything good am a sucker for a good movie.
I'd like to express gratitude to you for your service. I appreciate you and the time you give for me and the people of this country. Your course is honorable and selfless, you give your mind, body, and soul for the freedom of us and many others. I hope to become just as honorable and selfless, and be able to gain the virtues you show our country on a daily basis.
I hope you have a great Christmas season and know that you are esteemed to the highest degree in my estimation as well as many other people. Have a Merry Christmas, and I hope your "employment" is a safe and enjoyable one. You will be in my thoughts.
Cache Ellsworth

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

Our darling Brother-in-law and Uncle Abe,
During Desert Storm I remember laying in my bed one night thinking about the soldiers and how they must miss home. I was a young girl, but I still remember this. How grateful I was then and how still am today for all you give up and do for our country.

We are so proud of you and love to tell people that we are related to a soldier (a "real army guy"...as the kids put it)!

Thank you for all you and your troop does. Please be safe and know how much you are loved.

All our love,
Jenny, Derek, Kaitlynd, Ethan and Dylan

Maddie Jane said...

SPC Maverik,
I've got to admit that since you have such a cool name it had a big influence on picking you to write to. Since I also have a unique name I thought it might give us at least one thing in common.
My name is Cache Ellsworth. I'm a senior in high school and live in the small hick town of Bokchito Oklahoma. I enjoy reading anything good and am a sucker for a good movie.
I'd like to express my gratitude to you for your service. I appreciate you and the time you give for me and the people of this country. Your course is honorable and selfless, you give your mind, bod, and soul for the freedom of us and many others. I hope to become just as honorable and selfless, and be able to gain the virtues you show our country on a daily basis. I hope you have a great Christmas season and know that you are esteemed to the highest degree in my opinion and many others as well. Have a Merry Christmas and I hope your deployment is a safe and enjoyable one.
-Cache Ellsworth

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC Robert,
Hi, my name is Calder and I'm glad you're fighting for what we believe in. Thanks for being somebody to look up to. We were studying the Civil War awhile ago (I really liked it too), but it made me realize really how much you are doing for me, even though our weapons are more modern. Thanks again and I hope you have a Christmas to remember.
Calder Ellsworth

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC Luke,
Hi, my name is Paladin. I'm nine years old. I hope you have a Miry Chrismoes. I hope you donte feel lonilee rite now. Thank you for keeping us safe, and for goien in war, and for bein so brave.
I hope you make good frens in your grupe and hope you donte get sik. I hate bein sik wen I'm not at home. I will think of you this Chrismoes and pray jus for you.
Thank you for servn me.
Love your fren Pal

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SGT Micheal,
Merry Christmas! Thank you for keeping our country safe and free through the Holiday's and always.
My name is Jesse (girl Jesse- not boy) I'm a junior in high school and I love to study history and art. I can spend hours with a pencil..
I feel proud to be an American when I know brave men and women like you are out there right now, giving up your time, safety, and families to be my protector of freedom.
Thank you again for being there for me, my family, my state of Oklahoma, and our country- The United States of America. Have a Merry Christmas. You are in our hearts and I will especially think of you this Christmas in my thoughts and in my prayers.
Love, Jesse Ellsworth

Anonymous said...

SSG Christopher

My name is Shelley Wade and I am from Washington State. I wanted to take a minute to tell you Thank You and Merry Christmas. You and the many others serving our country are my heroes. The things that you are doing are so important to us. I look up to your bravery, your strength, your dedication, and your service. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. My family will be praying for your safety and well - being this Christmas! Thank you for all that you do!

Merry Christmas!

Wade Family

Maddie Jane said...

Dear SPC Jerry,
In part thanks to you, I am enjoying a wonderful night with my family (there are 9 of us, including myself, my husband, my five boys, and my two girls). We are in (podunk) Oklahoma, laying on our living room floor, in front of the twinkling Christmas tree , and listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing 'Winter Wonderland', while we write letters to you and your fellow platoon members.
And while I'm dreading the sore hips and lack of sleep that sleeping under the Christmas tree tonight will bring; YOUR sacrifice- of sleeping in a cot somewhere in Iraq, with no family surrounding you, no twinkling tree in your room, not to mention the intermittent bursts of danger and/or boredom, and no rich foods to enjoy to your hearts content, kind of puts all things into perspective. I am very humbled by your sacrifice. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your service to our country, my family, and myself. I love all three very deeply and take your gift to me with a humble heart. I have always enjoyed the history of my country and felt a deep love and appreciation to all who have served her. This year I am happy that it's not so vague for me. This year I have names and faces to put to my gratitude. I not only have my nephew Abe to think and pray about, I also have you. Thank you again Jerry.
I am very indebted for this night under my tree, my past nights, and I know that my future nights are in good hands.
Merry Christmas,
Rachel Ellsworth

Lilly Pyle said...

Dear SPC Jerry,

First of all, Merry Christmas! I hope that today brings you much joy and peace. It's a wonderful time of year to focus on our Savior and all the blessings He has given to us.

My name is Lilly Pyle and I am going to school at BYU in Provo, Utah. I think about the sacrifice that the soldiers make on behalf of our freedoms often. But today I would like to thank you, personally, for your individual sacrifices so that I can have the freedom to gain an education. You are a hero to me.

I pray that you will have the happiness of this season with you in Iraq. That you will know you are loved, worried about, and supported from home. That you will return safely.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Lilly Pyle

hennchix said...

Dear PFC Thomas,
I do not have the words to adequately express my gratitude for your service, and the love of our country you must posses to so selflessly give of your time, body, and dedication to protect me. As an Air Force brat, I grew up all over the place. Two tours in Iceland imstilled in me a deep love for and pride in America. In a very small sense I can relate to being away from home in a hostile country. May your remaining time in Iraq be safe, and pass quickly for you and your loved ones. Please know that we pray for you daily and support your endeavor to keep the war from our shores. Thank you so much, and may your heart feel peace as you celebrate the birth of our Savior in a land so close to where He once walked. God bless and keep you.
With great respect and appreciation,
Viki Anderson
Washington state

Lucy said...

Dear SPC Sheridon,

Although you spell your name differently, "Sheridan" is a name that brings a smile to my face. It's where I grew up visiting my grandparents on their ranch, spending weeks in the summertime riding horses, swimming in irrigation ditches (Gross to me now but, hey, I was a kid) and riding on the three-wheeler.

So, when I saw your name, it reminded me of my wonderful childhood in Montana, free from worry or danger and as happy as every child deserves their childhood to be.

I owe that childhood, and the freedom and peace my own children now enjoy, to brave soldiers like yourself, sacrificing your own safety and peace to ensure that others may have it. It is easy for someone such as myself to forget that fact. It is easy to go on about my Christmas activities, shopping for the family and decorating the tree until I stop and think about how someone like you cannot. Thank you, thank you for your sacrifice.

I hope you have a good Christmas. I hope you know that your service is appreciated and admired from afar, by a family who has never met you in Durango, Colorado. We will pray for your safety and comfort this holiday season...and always.

Lucy Johnson

Puhlman said...

Lt Abe,

I know your mom. What a grand lady. She has done a mighty fine job. Take a deep look within yourself. You are amazing...and I don't even know you. I don't need to. You come from good blood. THANK you Abe. Thank you for all have done and continue to do for this country. The military men and women have not been forgotten. I pray for you. I think of you. I am impressed with you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and sacrifice. Have a very Merry Christmas. I hope you feel loved at this time of year even though you are far from family.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SFC Keith,

WOW. You are miles and miles away. You don't know me...maybe that's a good thing. :) But I want you to know that I am extremely grateful for your time and energy and sacrifice. You are not forgotten even though you are far from family. WE remember you in our family prayers often.

I have five young and very BUSY children. We feel blessed. We feel so much gratitude for you. Please keep your chin up and remember that you are a hero.

Merry Christmas sir.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Anonymous said...

SGT Eric
My name is Tressa. I am 6 years old. I live in Washington State. I like to ride horses. I am excited for Christmas to come. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. I hope that you get to talk to your family. I hope Santa leaves you a present. Thank you for being a soldier and fighting for our country. I will pray for you to be safe and for you to have a good Christmas.

Thank you
Merry Christmas
Tressa

Puhlman said...

SSG Michael,

Merry Christmas. You are on my mind at this time of year as you sacrifice all you have...your time...your talents...your life....your everything. Thank you. I pray for you. I pray that this time of year will not be too hard as you are away from your family. There are so many thinking and praying for you. I am very grateful for what you do.

Thank you,

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Anonymous said...

Dear SPC Robert

My name is Ethen. I am 4 years old and my mom is helping me write this. I am excited to be able to write to a soldier. Thank you for being a soldier and fighting. I like you. I hope you have a Happy Christmas. I hope Santa comes to visit you.

Merry Christmas
Ethen

Puhlman said...

SSG Christopher,

It is such a joyous time of year. I know that you are far from family and that this time can be so lonely. I want you to know that you are NEVER alone. Your sacrifice and hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed. Please know that I care. Please know that I am grateful. Please know that I am praying for your safety and for this time to be just a little easier while your family is far away.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Merry Christmas Christopher

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SSG Phosy,

Merry Christmas. You are far away in an unfamiliar place doing extraordinary things. Those things are heroic. I am grateful...so very thankful for all you do. Thank you for putting your life at risk for this great country. Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you for your time....and effort. I pray for you and while this holiday comes and goes please know that I am thinking of you and hoping there will be some peace.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SGT Eric,

I want to thank you for your service. I am eternally grateful for what you do and have done. I'm sure you would rather be other places.......but please know many are praying. I know I am. I pray for your safety. I pray for comfort for you and all the others that put their life at risk for us and this amazing country. This time of year must be super hard as you are away from your family. You are not alone. I hope you can feel that.

Have faith. Keep going. Stay strong.

Thank you...so MUCH. Merry Christmas.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Anonymous said...

Dear SPC Luke

Hi! My name is Elisha. I am 9 years old and in 3rd Grade. I live in Washington State. Thank you for serving in the military and Thank you for fighting for our country. I have a brother named Luke. I like that name. I know you are a long ways from home but I hope Santa still visits you on Christmas. I hope that you get to talk to your family and friends on Christmas. I will be thinking of you and praying for you.

Merry Christmas
Elisha

Puhlman said...

SGT Michael,

How can I thank you enough for what you are doing? What a hero. I am amazed at what it takes to do what you do. I am praying. I pray for you. Thank you Michael for your hard work....sacrifice...selflessness. Merry Christmas. I know it isn't easy being away from family.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Luke,

Merry Christmas. Do you realize how grateful I am for your work? I really hope you know that we pray for you in our family prayers. WE speak of the sacrifices you make in our behalf. I love this country and it is because of the work you do that makes that possible.

Thank you for being a true hero.

Puhlman said...

SPC Robert,

Thanks so much for your service. I am sure this isn't exactly the best Christmas gift. But please know that I am thankful. I am amazed at your sacrifice and hard work. You go without sooo much in order to fight for your country and for that I am very grateful.

My prayers are with you. Praying this time of year won't be too difficult as you are far from your family.

Merry Christmas

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

Anthony,

I thought it was difficult being a mom of five young busy kids. That is until I thought of your sacrifice and hard work. I am now sitting at my computer realizing how easy I really have it.

I hope you know that I consider you a hero. I am so grateful for what you are doing. It does not go unnoticed. We pray daily for you in our family prayers. Keep that chin up. Stay strong. Pray often.

Merry Christmas

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Jerry,

Merry Christmas and thank you. There are just no words to express my appreciation for all you do. This time of year must be hard being so far from family but please know there are so many many prayers in behalf of you and the things you do to protect us and this great country. You are not fogotten.

Stay strong and remember we care. WE really care.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Ryan,

Merry Christmas,

Many many thanks sent to you for your time and energy and dedication and sacrifice. You are a true hero. My heart aches for you at this time of year while you are away from family. Know that we pray for your safety. Praying that you feel uplifted and happy despite your daily trials. Thank you Ryan. Thank you for your service.

Lisa Puhlman

Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Travis,

I know that you are far away and that Christmas is soon upon us. I hope and pray you can have a very Merry Christmas and that you know that so many are thinking and praying for you at this time. Your service is not forgotten. Thank you...thank you....thank you Travis for all you do.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Jeffrey,

Merry Christmas Sir. Many thanks coming your way. How very grateful I am for your service. Thank you for putting your life in danger in order to protect our freedoms. A true hero...truly. You are not alone...even though you probably feel lonley during this time of year. HE is aware. HE is always there. Keep that chin up.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Meverik,

I really hope you have a very Merry Christmas. And thank you so very much for every single thing you do and have done that I probably take for granted. Your service is not fogotten. Prayers are said in your behalf from our family of seven. We think of you often and pray for your safety.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

SPC Sheridon,

My thoughts turn to you this Christmas season as you are so far from your loved ones. I am so grateful for your time. I am thankful for you service. Thank you for fighting for us. Thank you for putting yourself in danger in order to protect this country. It means alot.

My husband and five kids pray for your safety. Praying for a happy Christmas for you and may this time of year still bring joy to your heart.

Puhlman said...

SPC William,

OK just typing your name made me cry....William is my fathers name. He passed away last month. So your name really means alot. You do not know me. That isn't necessary. Just knowing how hard you work and how you are sacrificing and giving up so much makes a huge impression on me and my family of seven. Thank you William for all you do. You are not forgotten even though you are miles and miles away.

May you have a wonderful Christmas and may you know that you are a hero.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Matthew,

Hoping and praying you have a Merry Christmas. I'm sure it isn't an easy thing...but please know I am thankful. I am grateful for the time you spend away from your family and the sacrifices you make in behalf of our country. Those things do not go unnoticed. My family and I are thinking of you at this time and consider you a true hero.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Jason,

This letter cannot say enough of how grateful I am for your sacrifice. I feel so thankful for your dedication and hard work. I know you go without so much and maybe you feel unappreciated but I appreciate all you do. Prayers are coming your way from many miles away....for your safety...for your strength...for uplifting. Thank you so very much for your selfless service. Merry Christmas sir.

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Mark,

Merry Christmas. My thoughts and concerns are with you at this time. Prayers are being said in your behalf daily. What an amazing thing you are doing for us and this country. Your selfless sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Being so far from family isn't an easy thing but I hope you can feel the love and support from us even though we are so very far away. My family of seven thanks you with everything we have.

Merry Christmas

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Thomas,

OH thank you. I appreciate you so much. Thank you for going without in order to make things better for us and our country. Your service is much appreciated. Your hard work and dedication and time does not go unnoticed. We pray for you...we think of you and we are grateful for you.

Merry Christmas

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Robert,

Merry Christmas. Words cannot express my thanks. I am amazed at what you do and what you go through in order to help this great country....and to protect our freedoms. You are remembered. WE pay for you in our family prayers. Keep your chin up. Thank you for being brave and for serving. An extra special prayer is being said for you at this time of year while you are so far from family. I hope you can feel our gratitude.

Merry Christmas

Lisa Puhlman
Virginia

Puhlman said...

PFC Travis,

Thanks so much for your hard work. Thank you for being so dedicated and for serving in the military. I am most grateful for your sacrifice. You are a true hero. May you have a Merry Christmas even though you are far from family. Prayers and more prayers being said for your safety and happiness. I pray that this time of year will still bring many joyous moments. You are not alone. And you will not be fogotten.

Merry Christmas
Virginia

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

Dear PFC Thomas,

Thank you for all that you are doing over there. All of the sacrifices that you are making does make a difference. Please know that you are thought of this holiday season with love and appreciation!

Thank you,
The West Family
(Logan, UT)

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

SPC Phosy,

Be of good cheer and know that you are thought of with love and appreciation this holiday season. Just for you.......

What is black and white and gives out a lot of pain?
................
................
a penguin!

Thank you,
Ethan West
(age 7 and a half)

Derek-Jenny-Kaitlynd-Ethan-Dylan said...

SPC Jeffrey,

I am so thankful for all you have done. Please know that it DOES make a difference and I am thankful for all you do!

Why does the bubble gum stick to your shoe?..........................
.................
because it wants to say, "I'm stuck on you"

Thank you,
Dylan West
(age 6)

hennchix said...

Dear Abe,
Merry Christmas from the cold desert to the hot one! I just want to take a second and say THANK YOU!! Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your dedication, thank you for loving our nation and freedom. I am in awe of you and all of our soldiers-and so grateful for the safety my family enjoys because of your efforts. You are a wonderful example of honor and courage. Your sweet wife is beautiful and so full of grace and love that I am moved to tears by her fortitude in the face of all you have gone through this year.

I hope you have peace in your heart and joy in the season, although you are so many miles from home. Please know, and let other soldiers know, that you are all thought of and prayed for daily, and DEFINITELY not forgotten.

Looking forward to your safe return with much appreciation,

Viki Anderson
prophet's puddle
Washington

hennchix said...

Dear SPC William,

My Dad's name is William, and he is the one who instilled love of country and freedom in me. He was a career serviceman in the Air Force, serving all over the place, except miraculously enough, not in Vietnam. I grew to love watching our soldiers in uniform carry out their duties, the fighters take off in combat drill, and turning to the flag at the end of the day as Taps played.

You must be very lonely and feel not so Christmasy right now. I remember feeling that way when I would walk into Icelandic shops that had been buzzing with conversation but fell suddenly silent when the Americans walked in.

Please know that you are thought of daily, and prayed for frequently. We pray for your loved ones, that they will receive strength and grace to endure your deployment. We pray for your safety and peace in your heart and mind.

I hope you find joy in your service, and in remembering the reason for this season. May God keep you and bring you home safely.

Merry, merry Christmas!
Viki Anderson
Washington State

Anonymous said...

Dear SPC Ryan,

You don't know me and I don't know you, but I pray for you and your brothers in arms every day. I remember when my uncle was deployed at the start of the war. I was blessed to stay in communication with him for most of his deployment. I want you to know how much I love and appreciate you for making the choice to put your own wants and dreams aside and putting on the uniform. I know I will never begin to understand everything that must be in your heart today. I hope, however, that you will be lifted just a little bit when you read this. This nation owes you so much for your selfless service. Keep your head up, and keep on keepin' on. Please remember that there are those of us stateside who would take away your fatigue and stress if we could. There is One who can. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family through this holiday season, and every day after. I pray the good Lord will see fit to keep you in the palm of His hand and bring you home to your loved ones safe and sound as soon as He can. Merry Christmas, Soldier.

In gratitude and deep respect,
Josslin Anderson
Moses Lake, Washington

michelle said...

Well, this was just beautiful. What a wonderful idea, Grace! Just wonderful.