As Christmas Approaches

20 December 2009
Arghandab, Afghanistan

As Christmas approaches, many people are thinking about the troops, who in turn are thinking about loved ones at home.  Cards and letters are tacked up on many walls.  The favorites are from the little kids, with questions like, "How do you go to the bathroom?"  "Can you eat dinner?"  "Does it hurt to get shooted?"  It goes on.

I emailed to Command Sergeant Major Jeff Mellinger, asking if he had any words for the troops this Christmas.  Jeff came right back with this awesome letter:


As you make your rounds over there, please to remind them that we know they are there and appreciate their performing their duty in such a magnificent manner.


Then CSM Mellinger writes:

I awoke this Saturday morning at PT time (0430), and looked at my surroundings.  The worst winter storm in DC for a number of years had arrived in force.  Snow, and lots of it.  Roads are closed, planes are grounded, and people are huddled comfortably inside their homes or foolishly out trying to learn how to drive in snow.

Rather than roll over, I put some warm clothes on, leashed the dogs, and out we went for some exercise and introspection. As I walked, I was trying to imagine being in those winter camps and fights so long ago.

I thought of Washington's Christmas raid at Trenton, and his last, lonely winter camp.  I thought of the soldiers at Fort Niagara. I thought of the bitter cold of the Argonne, the Huertgen Forest and Bastogne, the Aleutians, the Chosin Reservoir, the Sava River, and Tora Bora.

As I thought of those heroes of our past, those legendary Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen that we regularly honor and pay tribute to, I thought of those quiet professionals in current fights that we don't speak of often enough.

Look around on any forward operating base or outpost in Afghanistan, the Philippines or Iraq.  Watch the Soldiers passing through our airports coming home on or returning from R&R.  Listen to speeches during a deployment or redployment ceremony.  Stand silently and render honors to one of our fallen (something which is hardly more sincere than on Disney Road and at that airfield!).

Modern American heroes (not our over-indulged athletes or actors) are hardly given their due.  They walked or still pass quietly among us, never seeking acknowledgement or fame, but simply doing their duty as they have sworn oaths to do.  We already know some of their names:

- Smith, Murphy, Monsoor, Dunham, McGinnis - Medal of Honor;
- Hollenbaugh, Cooper, Nein, Sanford, Coffman - Distinguished Service Cross;
- Hester, Birch, Roundtree, Kandarian, LaFrenz - Silver Star;
- Kopp, Shumney, Kuban, DeLeon, Gentry - Bronze Star for Valor;
- Biggs, Carbone, Turecheck, Rushing, Berwald - Army Commendation for Valor.

And, I submit, for every warrior we acknowledge in a ceremony, there are a hundred or a thousand more who are never acknowledged for the difference they make every day.

So as I finished my peaceful walk in the snow, I thought of the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors that are carrying the fight away from home so that I could have this walk in peace, and I am forever grateful.  I thought of those in MRAPs slowly searching roadways for hidden dangers, others working with local police to secure a village, and yet others moving quietly and quickly to eliminate or capture a hidden enemy, and I am filled with pride.

Wherever you are, and whatever you do or did to continue to guarantee my safety and freedom, I thank each of you in, headed to, returning from, or supporting the fight.  You are my heroes, and I thank you.

CSM Jeff Mellinger



# Ky Woman 2009-12-19 20:33

Along with CSM Mellinger's words, please be sure to tell all 'Our Guys' you come in contact with, that we ARE thinking of them, praying for them, and wishing them the best Christmas with their Brothers in Arms that they can have in the situation of where they are. I'm so very thankful for each and every one of our military men and women. Gods' blessings on you and them, and may his protecting angels surround you all.

Have been a fan on both facebook and twitter since you've joined. Keep up the great reports of what's going on in Afghanistan.
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# Tammy Hodges 2009-12-19 23:20
Please tell them we appreciate them more than they know.I have taught my daughters that it's ok to enjoy the work of musicians and actors, but the soldiers are true heroes and are to be looked up to.
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# John House 2009-12-20 00:48
Our nation couldn't be more proud of every single hero who has served or is serving. We love those guys for giving us another peaceful Christmas at home, and even though we know they are there by choice, it pains us that they aren't sharing in our comfort. God Bless Each and Every One of You.
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# Scott Dudley 2009-12-20 01:37
And to you, Michael, Merry Christmas and thank you.
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# Kevlaur 2009-12-20 01:39
tears in my eyes.... it must be the smoke....
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# COLLEEN SCHIRMER 2009-12-20 04:02
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# Spike 2009-12-20 04:03
Sometimes I thought about what I could be today if the D-day never was! And my thoughts went to all the men that gave their lives for the freedom of people they never known! And I always thank this men for what they have done!
I hope that in the future boys from Iraq and Afghanistan will have the same thought remembering the guys that are fighting for their freedom today!
I wish all the US military troops to have a warm and quiet Xmas!
Thank you, boys!
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# Jamie 2009-12-20 04:34
I too thank all the service people who have chosen to do what they are doing to my daughter Spec. Davis at Landstuhl (sp) I love you I am proud of you and Merry Christmas!!!!!! !!! To Wayne Allie and AJ too!!!! And to my son who is a cadet at VMI and will soon enough be in the Marine Corp I am proud of you too!!!!!! Those that remember our troops this time of year I thank you too!!!!!!!! Let every service member you see know that we appreciate what they are doing, a handshake a thank-you just let them know we care!
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# A Brit in Kabul 2009-12-20 04:36
The CSM writes very powerfully and expresses the thoughts of many. As an ex-Serviceman (UK) I have since worked in Iraq and now in Afghan; during my tours I have met some exceptional young men of many colours and nations who are engaged in fighting our commom enemy. It's a hard, hard fight but it must be fought and there are none better than the young, dedicated US, Canadian, Danish and UK soldiers and Marines who face the foe and roll the dice daily. I admire your courage and tenacity. I think of you daily. I honour our fallen in my own way. I salute you all.
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# pete 2009-12-20 05:12
My son Phil is on his third tour, his second in Afghanistan with the 173rd Airborne. He's been stop lossed for this one. No complaints from him on this though, he just wants to get on with the job at hand he's been asked to do. He only just got on station in a FOB which I think is a few tens of kms SW of Kabul, so I'm guessing he and his troop are now settling in for the next year. We are waiting anxiously for his first call home. Thank you Michael for keeping a close up eye on all the soldiers for us. We do appreciate it very much.
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# Doug Moore 2009-12-20 05:21
I have followed your work for many years, Michael and am honored to be able to wish you a safe and meaningful Christmas Season.
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# Dan Toomey 2009-12-20 05:41
Tell the warriors from Clerk to Sniper, It's worth it and it DOES matter. I close every bedtime prayer I say with my Daughters, "And most improtant, God bless the soldiers, because they keep us safe, Amen." I hope the best for each and every one of you wonderful Americans. Dan
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# VIvienne Woodhead 2009-12-20 06:16
Doing one's duty is the toughest thing. Good luck to all those in the war, all doing their part.
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# casstx 2009-12-20 08:50
I submit that Marcus Lutrell was left off his list. Well deserved. Best to all my friends still over there!
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# Denny 2009-12-20 10:11
Jeff Mellinger SAID IT ALL, really, so MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL of our military personnel that are deployed and working to seriously deplete those who would wish to destroy our way of life!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

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# Nick Nixon 2009-12-20 12:39
Ex-Airforce (retired)
Merry Christmas.
Until there is the everlasting peace of Jesus Christ, thank God there are USA service men and women working to bring it to life.
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# Chris Arsenault 2009-12-20 12:59
I agree, the quiet humble ones deserve our gratitude. Like Josh:

May God watch over and keep our service members safe, and bless you Michael for keeping it real. Thanks.
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# Sharon Robino-West 2009-12-20 14:43
I concur with CSM Mellinger on every word that he said. Frankly, for all of you men and women in the service who have paid the price by putting your lives on the line (either voluntarily or through the draft) your service rocks. Your contribution rocks and you rock. What you have done and continue to do will never be forgotten by many of us. Semper Fi to all at this time and always.

Many thanks!
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# Mary Tomlinson 2009-12-20 17:58
Dear Michael: Thank you SO much for visiting our troops. If you're still with the 5/2 SBCT, Chosin Co., please say hello to our son, Sean. We wish all of the men at FOB Frontenac a very happy Christmas - hopefully calm and safe. We, our family and friends all around the US are praying for their (and your) safe return. St. Michael is protecting all of our troops. Blessings and take care. Mary (and Jim) T.
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# Carolyn J Frazier 2009-12-21 02:39
Michael I thank you with all my heart for keeping us informed about what's really going on. The news media only tells stories like because Navy Seals are accused of giving a murderer a fat lip it's gotta be true because he said so. It breaks my heart to know our precious, wonderful military are doing their job to keep us safe but are treated like criminals by the very people they are protecting. CSM JEFF MELLINGER expressed my feelings in his statement because if not for them, think what our lives would be like. These people are holding the line for me, my children and my grandchildren. All you come into contact with, please tell them I love them, I thank them and they are always in my prayers. Merry Christmas & May God keep you safe.
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# Al Tees 2009-12-21 03:42
I am a father of three beautiful Daughters. There are people in this world who would do them harm just because they are Americans. I want and need to protect them, but I am now too old and slow to take the fight to our enemies. I am forever thankful to the brave men and women who stand in my place, take the risk, and allow my Daughters to grow up safe.

Our heroes are always in our hearts and prayers, especially at this time of the year. God bless, and again thank you!

Highest Regards,
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# Soljerblue 2009-12-21 08:09
I have frequently pondered whether the line grunts in AfPak and Iraq have more in common with those who suffered in the snows of the Ardennes, the misery of Valley Forge, Frozen Chosin, or Cemetery Ridge than they have with us back home. I know that, in my years of service, flying a bleak ocean patrol on Christmas Day -- several Christmases, Thanksgivings, etc, I felt that bond with the former and isolation from the latter. So, a humble 'thank you' soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, for carrying the torch, keeping it high, and bearing the burden with grace. And thanks, Michael, for keeping us connected through it all. God bless you all, and bring you safely home.
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# Jennifer Betham-Lang 2009-12-21 10:44
Thank you so much for your contributions to TRUTH on the war front. You are, as always, the reliable source we rely on. On a personal note, Happy holidays, and know that one of your old friends, "Navy Jen" is thinking about you with well wishes from our new home, New Zealand! Blessings! (ps-- still not flying P-3s anymore, but still a chaplain)...
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# DEREK KOELMEL 2009-12-21 11:12
Micheal you have probably read it a thousand times but i truely appriciate your reports the mass media is absolutely garbage at reporting anything and half of that you can't trust ( it really isn't that hard to tell the truth) iam just frustrated with the state of the media, anyways keep em coming and tell the boys we are behind them 100% always have been.
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# Kevin 2009-12-22 04:19
For Michael and anyone else who may not have seen this yet, the Army Newswatch Video service on AKO did an interview with CSM Mellinger that is INCREDIBLE! It's only 1:53 long but gives us a glimpse of this great man. I only wish we could watch the entire video.

I first heard about CSM Mellinger through Michael Yon and I only wish I had the privilege of serving with him. Anyway, you can watch it at:
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# David M 2009-12-22 04:30
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/22/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
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# Sheri Bottero 2009-12-23 04:53
Thank you and God Bless to all our soldiers and their families. I wish all our soldiers a very Merry Christmas, and a safe journey back home. Thank you Michael for a good job of reporting. It helps us more than you know.
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# Bookworm 2009-12-23 13:25

Thank you so much for all you do for the troops and, by extension, for the American people. Without your posts, I think many of us would have very little idea about what's actually going on in America's two wars. I hope that you enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
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# Chris N 2009-12-23 19:24
Bravo Command Sergeant Major! thank you for your inspiring words and God Bless our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines fighting terrorism and evil at every corner of our world. You are in our thoughts and prayers daily. I stand proud for your cause this Christmas. Keep up the good fight, we are with you.
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# Marcia Wiley 2009-12-24 13:29
As the wife of a retired USAF Smsgt and Grandmother of Pvt Kyle Williams at FOB Frontenac, thankyou so much for taking the time to have a conversation w/Kyle and to post his photo in your album. Our entire family would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very safe New Year . You are truly a great American for taking time to see to our soldiers (both men & women) again THANKYOU
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# MOM OF TWO mARINES 2010-12-02 03:29
i have 2 son's whom r marines my oldest is now in Afganistan STAFF Sergeant Brandon Zettlemoyer. he will be spending Christmas away from his family and I pary he is safe and I am so very proud of his sacraifices. He has two daughters at home in Ca whom miss their daddy so very much as i miss him too. My other son came back from Afganistan in aug he uis currently going to ssd school in texas and was promoted today too Corproal brian riddle. i wish i could be there for this. he too i keep in my prayers for a sagfe passage to come home for christmas. i wish all the service men a merry Christmas and a Thank you for all you do..
for their families at home send Christmas Blessings and wishes My heart is with you this holiday season.
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