PENSACOLA, Fla. — Jolly ol’ Santa Claus has been busy this month conducting a goodwill tour of America’s military bases delivering holiday cheer and gifts to the families who make the sacrifices as their loved ones serve abroad.
Santa Claus brought smiles to the men and women of all branches of service providing a heart-warming glow on the faces of America’s military personnel and their children. He even arrived into NAS Pensacola aboard a Blue Angels F/A-18D Hornet to greet the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.
The Air Force 152 Airlift Wing conducted Operation Santa Claus at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in front of several hundred families of the Northern Nevada’s Children’s Cabinet. Twenty aircraft from across the area took part in a parade as they brought in gifts for those less fortunate, Senior MSgt Paula Macomber said.
Santa also visited with the Airmen and their families of South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing. He took time to visit with their children and pose for pictures.
“During his visit, Santa gave special thanks to the children for the sacrifices they make when their parents are away serving on military duty,” 169th FW spokesperson SSgt Megan Floyd said.
Santa and Mrs. Claus later attended a Christmas tree lighting event at Fort Benning, Georgia. The jolly couple were all smiles as they welcomed the children of the military families.
“I feel like we spend so much time away from our families to train trainees, so to be able to come out to an event like this with our families is really important to us,” 46th Infantry Regiment drill sergeant SSgt. Joseph Reap said with a big smile.
In Knoxville, Tenn., it is the Airmen themselves who serve on Santa’s behalf each year as they shop for the sick children in local hospitals. The 134th Air Refueling Wing puts the spirit of Christmas into the hospital rooms of the young children each year.
“This is not just a 134th SFS event anymore,” 134th SFS unit training manager MSgt. Gabriel Griffin said with a smile of emotion. “This event has turned into a base-wide event because everyone in one way or another, whether its manpower, monetary donations, or fundraiser events, comes together in order to raise the money needed to help the local children and their families.”
As the Air Force Thunderbirds practiced this week across Nellis AFB, Santa arrived via an F-16 Fighting Falcon with his elves. He visited the Airmen and their families bringing holiday cheer for America’s military and their families who sacrifice alot year ’round.
(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and science. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)