Holiday Memories

A recovery Christmas

It was the night before Christmas and all through Afghanistan,

Not a creature was stirring except maybe a couple of naughty Taliban,

Camp Phoenix was quiet, not a soul in sight,

The first sergeant was busy prepping just in case of a fight.

The commander is preoccupied attacking the keyboard and seemed out of sort,

Because in the morning, the colonel no doubt, will demand his report.

Suddenly a call and operations was moving, the FLE has just called a breakdown for us to go get.

Get Commo and Maintenance and alert QRF, a few minutes later the convoy was set.

Out the wire we went, someone needs help quickly now and our timeline was met

They sent out a Wrecker surrounded by Gun Trucks with no time to spare.

The snow was coming down and hard to see, the TC was quick to shoot off a flare

Just ahead and off to the right can't quite tell but something was there,

As we rounded the corner and had a better view, it all of a sudden became quite clear

There in the snow just a little ahead was a large sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

A large fellow all dressed in red with a snow white beard stood quiet and showed a little fear,

We pulled up alongside amazed and in disbelief, "What seems to be the problem here?"

He hesitated at first than quietly spoke, "I was flying through the clouds, I could barely see

So I dropped her down careful and free, next thing you know I got hit by a Taliban RPG."

We stood in disbelief, then a quick look around, and a 360 perimeter was all we had to see.

We went straight to work with the speed of an athlete, cutting and welding right there in the street.

"Sit right back and take a load off your feet, this we can fix so please stand back until our mission is complete."

We finished our work and cleaned up the mess, the fat man now looked a lot less stressed.

"Saint Nick is my name," he said determined and slow. "Who might you be I surely would like to know?"

Hesitating our reply not really knowing if he was friend or foe,

"We are 593rd Recovery Team and unfortunately, it's time to go."

He shook our hands and patted our backs, thanked us and got back in his sleigh.

He then turned to us with a big wide smile, "I have a job to complete but I have this to say,

You are Soldiers of freedom, you care and you trust,

Your duty is courage, and your reasons are just,

A Christmas wish for you I will pray,

For you are the reason I can give on this day

Merry Christmas to you and your families while you are away!"

The way back was quiet as we drove down the street

Now back at the FOB refueled and our PMCS complete.

We all agreed that maybe this was something we dare not repeat,

One thing for sure, even though we may never quite understand

We will never forget that Christmas night far away in Afghanistan!

Merry Christmas

Christopher Wolfe

Currently deployed in Afghanistan with the 593 Transportation Unit.

May your doorbell never ring

During Word War II, friends and relatives at the "Home Front" sent positive thoughts and pictures to our boys serving at the war front. In mid-November 1943, Mom sent Christmas cards to her younger brothers. Bill and Don were in the Navy stationed in the Pacific. Richard was a member of the First Special Service Force, The Devil's Brigade, in Italy.

During the war, nobody wanted to see a Western Union delivery person get off his bike in front of their house with the telegram in his hand, your worst nightmare. If nobody was home, the Western Union person was supposed to return to that address later when someone was available to sign and receive the telegram.

Nobody was home at 71 Fay's Ave. on Dec. 22, 1943, a bitter, cold, cloudy day in Eastern Massachusetts. Pop, my grandfather, was the first person to arrive home to discover a telegram underneath the front door. He opened it and read, "THE SECRETARY OF WAR DESIRES ME TO EXPRESS HIS DEEP REGRET THAT YOUR SON PRIVATE RICHARD E DAIGLE WAS KILLED IN ACTION (KIA) IN DEFENSE OF HIS COUNTRY ON THREE DECEMBER IN ITALY LETTER FOLLOWS."

Immediately, Pop was overwhelmed with grief. Aunt Phyl, Mom's youngest sibling, told me, "I came home after Pop read the telegram. He was in the laundry room off the kitchen. The door was shut." She heard her father wailing through the door for hours.

Three mornings later, Dec. 25, 1943, my grandparents placed a gold star in their front window for all the neighbors to see. Parents had a blue star in their window for each adult child serving in our armed forces. The blue star was replaced with a gold star for each adult child killed in action. Christmas was not the same for my Mom's family. Her sister, Doris, her husband, Walter, their daughter, Susan, my great-grandmother, mom and I gathered at my grandparents' home and grieved.

Eleven years later, we were gathered at my grandparents' home for a holiday. Pop was sitting quietly in his chair. Mom asked her father, "Pop, why are you being quiet?" He answered, "I was thinking of Richard."

I was the first grandchild on Mom's side of the family. During the War, Mom and I lived several weeks at her parents' home. I had a close relationship with my grandparents. Once in 36 years Pop spoke to me about Uncle Richard, "When Richard came home for Christmas in 1942 he was in fantastic shape, rock-solid, from his Army training." Pop's body language was proud with a sparkle in his eyes. That was the only time I saw Pop's eyes sparkle.

My wish for everyone with a loved one currently serving our country, may you never hear your doorbell ring, open your front door and see two grim-faced men in uniform, the equivalent to the telegram.

Ken Beaton

Carson City

My sweetest memory

A most memorable Christmas season experience happened for me when I was eight years old. Each year, I take the memory out and take joy in living the experience again.

Rosemary was a Pima Indian woman. I was a girl in progress. She was a plump , middle-aged widow with long black hair that was in a braid. I was a skinny, lonely girl. My hair grew in 20 ways.

Rosemary's kindness was known all over the neighborhood and her gentle spirit was loved by everyone. She often stood by her front yard gate. She'd say to the children rushing by, "Slow down, stop and talk a while."

She had a heart of gold, you could see it in her smile. Every Christmas season she'd invite one neighborhood child to spend Christmas Eve evening with her in her little home. The day before this happened, she stopped me at her gate to tell me this year I was the one.

"Tell your mom to send you at six. I'll send you home at eight," she said.

Mama shined me up and as I approached Rosemary's door, I could smell hot chocolate and Christmas cookies baking. Inside Rosemary's home it was like a different world. I took in paper chains and bells while in a soft chair I curled. Cranberry and popcorn strings decorated her Tamarisk tree. I'd never seen anything like it. It was wonderland to me. She brought chocolate and cookies and we sat beside a crackling fire. She read me "The Christmas Story," which I had never heard, then topped it off with "The Night Before Christmas," while the refreshments we shared.

When it was time to leave, she said, "You have to go." Then she filled both my pockets with candy, nuts and fruit, opened the door and I walked out into new-fallen snow.

I just had my 80th birthday in November and this is still my sweetest memory.

Betty Itano


A musical Christmas

"What child is this who laid to rest..." that's what was played along with other Christmas songs. I played the piano, my sister Sue playing the flute, brother Bruce playing the clarinet, and younger brother Ken on the drums. My mother usually played the piano and my dad the saxophone. It was a nice way to celebrate the birth of Christ.

On Christmas Eve we were always at my mom's with my grandparents there too. We had a grand dinner, then the four of us were sent upstairs because Santa Claus was on his way delivering gifts for all of us. After dinner we would open gifts. After that we had dessert. As all of us got older, my mom asked us to draw a paper which told us what our part was in the preparation for dinner. At this time I am the only one playing music, studying piano, organ, and oboe (for the orchestra) and majoring in music. I do sing in The Shepherd of Sierra church choir.

Heidi DePuy


First Christmas without dad

My dad John Hollis Lenox Sr. passed away back in October. He was 73 years old. He will be missed this Christmas and anniversary.

We need his love to Lenox family and friends together our Christmas each other forever.

Ginger A. Lenox

Carson City

My guitar for a real Christmas tree

Myself, having worked in three of Elvis Presley's movies, besides having been a friend of Elvis' chief bodyguard Bobby "Red" West (we had both done stunt work together in Kirk Douglas' "Spartacus") made it easy to pen this ballad with Elvis in mind.

However, the initial inspiration came from a very pretty, long-haired young lady on a Christmas tree lot in North Miami, Fla. (the year just before Elvis died) who tried, in the presence of my wife and myself, to make an exchange with the lot attendant of her cherished guitar for a "live" Christmas tree. So moved were we by the incident that I wrote, dedicated and sent to Elvis Presley...

"The Miracle Guitar," a Christmas ballad

I love my guitar, oh Mother and Dad--

It has meant so much to me,

But I would trade my guitar and all else that I have

For a real-life Christmas tree.

Because you don't care, each Christmas we've had

A Christmas tree that's man-made,

And a tree made by God that comes from His soil-

For this each night I have prayed.

You can still have your own kind of tree, Mom and Dad,

But I also want to have mine-

Now I'm ready to trade my guitar and its songs

For a scraggly little pine.

For a tree not with artificial limbs

That fit on a hand-crafted stem,

But a tree that's together as lives should be,

Giving truth and fullness to them.

This could be my last Christmas, and only fate

With its curious whims can know,

While guitars in this sweet, uncertain life,

through the year may come and go.

So don't try to stop me as I go out

In the cold, in hopes to find,

At the corner Church that sells Christmas trees,

A tree of the earth-grown kind.

I believe that at the Christmas tree lot

A kindly soul will be there,

To accept my guitar for a small, lonely tree

And answer my nightly prayer.

"Oh, sir, I have this shiny guitar

And it's a very good grade,

It's been worth a musical fortune to me,

But now I wish to trade.

You question the tear that's in my eye

Oh, you don't understand at all,

It isn't the giving up my guitar

Which has made that teardrop fall.

My wish has come true and I now have my tree

Though it seems quite bare and forlorn,

But I know I have riches untold because

I'll wake up to my tree Christmas morn'.

And, behold, in my sleep-time on Christmas Eve

I had a wonderful dream,

And a vision appeared and exclaimed to me-

That "Things aren't what they seem."

When Christmas arrived I leaped out of bed

And to make my spirit strong,

I ran to my tree, and my eyes opened wide

At a package big and long.

"Could it be?" I cried out, as I couldn't hold back

From feeling so very glad,

Then I quickly looked at the card which read

"All our love--Your Mom and Dad."

Then I fast pulled the beautiful ribbon off,

And the wrapping fell loosely apart,

Revealing the glorious reason that

pure joy had jumped to my heart.

For the longest time I stood there paled

Then came a gush of tears,

As I cradled in my outstretched arms

A guitar well-made to last years.

The little tree then shone a great light

As my new guitar made reply,

and played by itself while a spirit-song sang

"All things this day glorify."

Another message then suddenly came

And a forgotten truth unfurled,

That the greatest of wealth are my Mom and Dad

More than anything else in the world.

I loved my guitar, and almost too much

Because nothing else mattered to me,

But a miracle happened the time that I swapped

My guitar for a real Christmas tree!

That was my last Christmas, and fate was right

Life's curtains would soon be drawn,

Just as surely as songs and companion guitars

In my tie had come and gone.

And now from the other side of life

I'm drawn to a greater thing,

My mother, my God, and that country far

It is now of thee I sing!

Thane W. Cornell

Carson City

Santa is part of all of us

I remember when I was 4 years old one of my friends told me that there was no Santa! I was so upset by this alarming news that I started crying. By the time I got home, my tears were as big as gum balls.

While I was sitting on the front porch, I thought to myself, "There is a Santa. I just know there is." Just then my dad came home from work and saw me crying and asked "What's the matter Donna?" I told my dad what my friend had said to me. My dad then preceded to tell me that there was a Santa and that I had to believe in Santa because to believe in Santa gave you hope and faith.

With those kind words of assuring me that there is a Santa I have this never-ending memory of Christmas. Every time I think of Santa, with the red suit, white beard and the black boots, I get of feeling of hope and a belief of faith.

This, to me, is the most memorable gift I have ever received. Now that I am all grown up and have children of my own, I tell them the story about Santa. I will never forget Santa, for he is a part of me always.

Donna Batis-Wungnema

Carson City

Christmas in China in 1945

We had just been evacuated from Ninking to Tsingtau, which was a Naval treaty port, and were staying aboard the hospital ship Repose.

Things were all very bleak with almost all of China, except Tsingtau being overtaken by Communists.

In all of the darkness, what should we see? High on top of the Repose was a twinkling Christmas tree. And then, up the ramp came troops of red-cheeked Chinese children from the orphanage for a big hot meal.

Peggy Holschaw

Carson City

An early Christmas gift

One morning this past August I put my glasses on and much to my dismay, the frame broke right over my nose. Great! That meant I had to go to Carson to get it replaced. After thinking about it, I figured I may as well get my eyes checked since it had been a while since the last checkup.

Knowing that they would be putting liquid in my eyes to examine them, I asked my sister to go with me. In the coarse of the exam, they informed that my left eye had been hemorrhaging and they insisted on taking my blood pressure. The fact I was at the office was enough to send it into outer space ... which, it did! After the exam was complete, the doctor strongly suggested I go to an emergency room and have it checked. My sister got me to an open emergency room and after the exam, they strongly suggested I go to my regular doctor, which I did a day or two later.

A couple days after that, I had to take care of some errands in Reno and stopped at the office of a chiropractor I knew to get my twisted neck put back in place. I mentioned about the hemorrhaging in the eye and he suggested I see a neurologist. I asked if he knew one and he said yes, one of the chiropractors working in his office was also a neurologist. After the exam, the neurologist strongly suggested I get an EKG. A couple days later I returned to Reno for the EKG. My youngest son went with me and, at my request, arranged a pre-exam visit to the local church for the rite of Extreme Unction. I had to remove my brown scapular before the exam because of the two metals, one from Lourdes and the other from Fatima, which were attached.

I stayed overnight at my son and daughter-in-law's house. When I got up the next morning and removed my pajama top to dress, I realized I had left the scapular at the hospital so I called to see if anyone had turned it in to the office. After checking, the office lady told me it had not been found. I was not a happy camper, but I asked her to mail it to me if it was found.

After breakfast with my son and his wife, I drove home. Before going to bed that night, I put the damaged scapular I had replaced with the now lost one around my neck. (Half was better than none!) I replaced the scarf around my neck to keep warm, put on my pajama top and went to bed. The next morning I got up, took off my pajama top and on top of the scarf and damaged scapular was the scapular I had lost at the hospital!

Only God could have done that without waking me and my two doggies!

Mary Santomauro


Christmas in Guantanamo

On the morning of Oct. 22, 1962, everything began as normal at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Children were away to school, mothers were doing their things, fathers were at their duties.

About 0945 a message went throughout the base that the children were returning home and that all families were to be evacuated that day. There was no reason, just, "this is not a drill." Each person was allowed one suitcase.

About 1500 that afternoon, I watched from the dock as my family, wife and three small boys, went aboard ship. The ship left about 1630, bound for Norfolk, Va. My son, and I'm sure many others, asked, "Mom, will we ever see Dad again?"

The answer came on Dec. 24, 1962, as two troop ships entered the harbor and all the families returned to "Gitmo."

This is why, at the ripe old age of 87, Christmas day of 1962 will always be in my memory!

Bill Ford

Carson City

Loving wife, mother gave her family everything

During the Korean War, the unit I was attached to was assigned and deployed to guard the atomic facility located in the state of Washington at Hanford. Being a medical laboratory technician in civilian life, my assignment was to the Army hospital laboratory.

I was married so I was able to live off the post when not on duty. In October 1950 my wife Gladys gave birth to our son, James Andrew. One year later Gladys gave birth to twin girls. One we named Charlene and the other Sandra. Now we had three beautiful children. We felt blessed even realizing our life would have to change to take care of their needs. Gladys being from a large family accepted this challenge, loved taking care of all the children's needs.

On that first Christmas, Gladys talked about the children's future. She wanted their life to have meaning, to be of service to others in need, in particular those with limited mental capacity or physical disabilities. She wanted her children to treat others the way they would want to be treated. To stand up for their beliefs, to be honest and fair in dealing with others, to develop character and free will, follow their conscience when in doubt, to be aware of what we leave undone or neglect are what causes those little heart aches when day is done, to not listen idle gossip aimed at injuring another's character or good name. She wanted to gain her children's trust by being their sounding board, always ready to listen to their complaints, worries, and problems, with love and patience, never criticizing, just giving advice to calm their fears.

The children were normal kids having their share of cuts, bruises, accidents and disappointments. As the children grew, I watched them confide in Gladys whatever was bothering them. She was a wonderful wife and mother deeply loved by all. She had several heart attacks and at age 40 she developed diabetes which was slowly robbing her of eyesight. She never complained, not wanting her family to be worried. At age 64 she died, leaving us all devastated. It was hard to believe she was gone leaving us with an empty feeling. Something had gone from early morn that made for lonesome days. The joy had gone from voice and song. The chords were like broken strings. The moon hung high in a sorrowful sky like a light whose light had been spent. The earthly loss was deeply felt, it effected everything. My hope was that when she passed angels reached out to gather in one who was coming home. Time was a healer.

Now at Christmas, besides celebrating the birth of the Christ child, we have fond memories of a wife and mother, who gave her family a world of happiness during her short stay on earth.

James McMullen

Carson City


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