BUTLERVILLE, Ind. — The economy may not show many signs of improvement, but Christmas spirit is on the rise thanks to a few soldiers who brought a little cheer to families in need. The National Guard Patriot Academy hosted its 3rd Annual Operation Christmas Blessing Monday to provide a hot meal, household goods and toys for children whose families have fallen on hard times. For them, accepting help was not easy to do.
Covered head to toe in blue and gold windbreaker pants and jacket, Pat McBride stuck out like … well, a Navy fan among a sea of Army faithful.
McBride and fellow United States Naval Academy graduate Dave Bergman might have been in the extreme minority watching the 112th Army-Navy Game on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Eagle River Ale House, but that didn’t dampen their spirits one bit.
“No matter where you are in the world, you always try to find another guy to watch the game with — even if they’re Army,” quipped Bergman, a 1989 graduate.
Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Knight has worked all around the world — from Colorado Springs to Afghanistan, Germany to Korea — but he told the Chugiak-Eagle River community that there’s something special about the bond between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the surrounding communities.
“I think the Anchorage Bowl is the gold standard,” Knight told the chamber during speech on Dec. 7 at the Bear Mountain Grill in Eagle River.
More than 120 Alaska Army National Guardsmen said goodbye to family and friends at a departure ceremony held Saturday, Nov. 26 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The soldiers of B Company, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne) Regiment are headed to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Indiana before deploying to Afghanistan for a year. At Camp Atterbury, the soldiers will receive their final pre-mobilization and validation training, according to a press release.
In Afghanistan, the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division will be conducting operations in order to support and increase the security of Afghan national forces, said First Sgt. Aaron Spahl.
The approximately 3,500 troops, whose nickname is the “Spartans,” will focus on training and mentoring Afghan national forces, Spahl said.
Heading into hostile territory is nothing new for Brian Flanagan, a member of the Army's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, who is about to ship out on his fourth tour of duty overseas. But this time around, leaving home will be especially tough.
"Every one has its own challenges," Flanagan said shortly before a deployment ceremony for the 3,500-member brigade at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
This time around, Flanagan will be leaving not just the safety of home, but a newborn son, 3-month-old Colin.