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Operation Merry Christmas
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Staff Sgt. Matthew Reyes, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, hands a Christmas card to another service member at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 19, 2011. Reyes is a volunteer supporting Operation Merry Christmas, a program that shipped more than 14,000 Christmas cards to Bagram Airfield to be handed out to the service members. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)
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Operation Merry Christmas hits Bagram Air Field

Posted 12/24/2011   Updated 12/25/2011 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/24/2011 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan  -- Walking out of a dining facility at Bagram Air Field, a group of five service members were returning for duty when a security forces Airman handed them a Christmas card containing season's greetings from citizens in the United States. Smiling and walking away, the service members were the first recipients of the day for Operation Merry Christmas.

Operation Merry Christmas is the name given to 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Fly Away Security Team member Tech. Sgt. Jason Guillory's efforts to connect deployed members at Bagram Air Field with more than 10,000 holiday greeting cards sent from families in the United States.

Guillory began early in the year talking with his hometown church friends at Angel Heart Ministries in Little Rock, Ark., about service members' sacrifices to protect freedom. The conversation spawned an interest in the stateside families to coordinate sending a token of appreciation for those sacrifices. Guillory received and distributed more than 30 boxes of holiday cards, in time for Christmas. Each card was personally prepared with unique envelope decorations, a holiday greeting card and a penny punched with a hole in the shape of a cross.

"Guillory is amazing," said Master Sgt. Krista Cooley, 455th FAST member. "He is very selfless and has been talking about this for three months trying to gain support."

During the week leading up to Christmas, Guillory and his fellow FAST members handed out an average of 1,500 cards per day to anyone walking around at dining facilities, base exchanges, and anywhere else there was foot traffic. Every day, three to four hours a day, the team greeted and distributed the Christmas cards. All were included in the operation, no matter the nationality or branch of service.

Army Specialist Corey Thompson, holiday card recipient, said receiving a card from Operation Merry Christmas made a big impact.

"You are away from friends and away from family," said Thompson. "Knowing that someone cares enough to send you a card, or anything ...it makes you feel great."

Guillory said receiving a gift from a stranger has a tremendous effect on deployed member's morale.

"It's good to receive things from back home," he said. "Especially when you find out that people who don't even know you care about you and thank you for what you do. They do appreciate the sacrifices that we make."

12/31/2011 1:40:48 PM ET
What a WONDERFUL gesture Thanks to all who participated. Love a mom whose son is at Bagram.
Kathleen , MI
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