Give Thanks, Give a Card, Support Our Troops [40 PICS]

November 17th, 2012 Permalink

Thanksgiving is a great time to list out the things for which we are grateful. One of the reasons the pilgrims came to America was to have freedom. As families gather together to give thanks on Thanksgiving or see each other on Christmas, some deployed soldiers are apart from their families to ensure our freedom and protect the security of America. Even if you never see the men and women in the military, they are heroes. It is hard to be away from loved ones and family over the holidays, so if you enjoy random acts of kindness, then wouldn’t it feel great to send a smile, a little bit of cheer over the holiday season? It is a perfect time to say thank you by letting soldiers and veterans know that we appreciate them. When it comes to giving, you may be surprised how often the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard help out Santa Claus. Here’s a list of ways you can help support our troops and a look back at how some of our service men and women celebrated the holiday season in years past. [40 Photos]

Operation Enduring Freedom Afgahanistan wilderness holiday greetings

Wilderness holiday greetings from the U.S. military to us. Would you consider sending a holiday card back? Holiday Mail for Heroes: If you are looking for ways to support, honor or lift the morale of U.S. military service members and veterans who protect our security and freedom, then the Red Cross is currently accepting holiday cards. Once signed and scanned for safety, Red Cross volunteers will sort and deliver them to service members, veterans and their families across the country and around the world. Cards must be postmarked by Friday, December 7. If you see this at another time and wish to honor or thank our soldiers, there is a long list of organizations that send Cards, Letters, Gifts, and Care Packages to our troops and wounded veterans. Photo #1 by Heidi’s mom

Military personnel leaves with his family after returning from summer patrol

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Binnings leaves with his family after returning from summer patrol to Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan. Binnings is an information systems technician assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell. If you have ever wanted to send your support to a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, or Coastguardsman, but have no idea of what to send, who to send it to, or how to send it, then check out Any Solider. U.S. Navy Photo #2 by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Oki


Greetings from family members

Greetings from family members. Operation Homefront Hugs allows you to contribute to care packages or adopt a servicemember. Operation Gratitude: Contribute to care packages sent to our servicemembers. Operation Troop Aid: Provide care packages for our deployed U.S. Servicemembers. U.S. Navy Photo #3 by Seaman Rosa A. Arzola

Marines a happy Thanksgiving

Marines and a deployed version of their Happy Thanksgiving. Did you know you can adopt an entire platoon? Maybe adopting a troop is more your style? If that seems too much, then have you ever wanted to send a note to a Wounded Warrior to thank them for their service and sacrifice? The Wounded Warrior Project lets you send warriors thank you cards through Facebook. U.S. Marine Corps Photo #4 by Lance Cpl. Caleb Gomez

Marines Thanksgiving Afghanistan

Senior staff of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, serve Thanksgiving dinner to the U.S. Marines of Forward Operating Base Marjah in Marjah, Afghanistan. A Million Thanks: Collects emails and letters of appreciation for our armed forces. If cards aren’t your thing, then you could donate your ‘old’ mobile phone via Cell Phones for Soldiers. Or have you heard of Operation Homelink? “Most members of our military have e-mail access on ships and even in desert outposts. Often times, however, lower income families are not able to afford a computer and must rely on expensive phone calls or regular mail to stay in touch. Operation Homelink addresses this problem by providing a refurbished computer to the spouse or parents of troops within the lowest level pay grades (E1-E5) as well as wounded warriors and veterans.” U.S. Marine Corps Photo #5 by Lance Cpl Shawn P. Coover

Culinary Specialist prepares cornucopia

Culinary Specialist 1st Class Lemuel ManLogon from Stokton, Calif. places garnishes on a table in the aft mess decks before a Thanksgiving celebration aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73). Would you consider supporting our troops by sponsoring a hero? There are heroes waiting and HeroBox connects you with deployed service members instantly online. U.S. Navy Photo #6 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

Preparing vegetables for Thanksgiving festivities at Andersen Air Force Base Guam

Preparing vegetables for Thanksgiving festivities at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Staff Sgt. Tina Ross (left) and Master Sgt. Ralph Neri prepare vegetables for Thanksgiving festivities here. Both Airmen are assigned to the 36th Services Squadron. Have you ever heard of Treat the Troops? Who doesn’t like cookies? Or Hugs4Smiles can help you find ways to send baked yummies, DVDs, CDs, books or sewn items to soldiers. U.S. Air Force Photo #7 by Tech. Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo Jr.

Army Thanksgiving Afghanistan

U.S. Army Spc. Sarah Cash prepares candied yams for a Thanksgiving celebration in Afghanistan. Did you know the Wounded Warriors Fund has fully furnished condominium units for use of families of our wounded or injured veterans and widows and families of our fallen heroes? Then there’s the Fisher House Foundation provides a “home away from home” for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury. Warrior Weekend also helps wounded troops and their families. Would you consider becoming a “Battle Buddy” by directly supporting a deployed unit or healing warrior here at home? U.S. Air Force Photo #8 by Staff Sgt. Dayton Mitchell

Thanksgiving Alpha Company

Officers and noncommissioned officers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, serve U.S. Soldiers during the annual Thanksgiving meal at Camp Ur in Dhi Qar province, Iraq. You may think you don’t have the time or the finances to support our troops, but groups such as the Wounded Warrior Project offer all kinds of ways that you can give back. Some are as easy as donating a tweet or Facebook post. U.S. Army Photo #9 by Spc. Khori Johnson

Captain Robert Irelan and Colonel Mark J. Desens carve the Thanksgiving turkey aboard USS Iwo Jima

Captain Robert Irelan and Colonel Mark J. Desens carve the Thanksgiving turkey aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7). The turkey is to be served for the Thanksgiving dinner for Marines and sailors aboard the Iwo Jima. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Iwo Jima Strike Group were deployed to the 5th Fleet Area of Operation. Give back to the troops who give all at Give 2 the Troops. If you’ve looked online for some of the best ways to show support for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, then you might find a bunch of dead links that dealt with Iraq, but there are so very many, not expensive, or even free ways ways to help, such as Operation Care and Comfort. Please Support our troops! Official USMC Photo #10 by Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell

Sailors give thanks before enjoying their Thanksgiving

Sailors give thanks before enjoying their Thanksgiving meal onboard USS George Washington. GW is currently on patrol in the Western Pacific helping to ensure security and stability. There is a support group called Soldiers’ Angels that aids wounded Soldiers with transitional backpacks, personal visits, and phone calls, etc., and also sends thanks via letters and email to the U.S. military and its allies. Another fantastic way to support the troops is to Pray for the Soldiers; it seems like a simple gesture, but so many soldiers are extremely grateful for the prayers of all the Americans in their behalf. U.S. Navy Photo #11 by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheng S. Yang

Thanksgiving display is showcased in a dining facility at Forward Operating Base War Eagle in Baghdad, Iraq

Thanksgiving display as it was showcased in a dining facility at Forward Operating Base War Eagle in Baghdad, Iraq. Did you know you that you can donate Bibles or books to soliders? Or give DVD movies and video games to wounded soldiers? U.S. Army Photo #12 by Sgt. Edwin M. Bridges

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, carves a turkey

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, carves a turkey during Thanksgiving dinner aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) while the ship is under way in the Gulf of Oman. Did you know that you can help veterans via MilServe by volunteering your time for mentoring, driving, or home improvement such as building a wheelchair ramp? U.S. Navy Photo #13 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Moon

Marines tired of Turkey, time for Turkey Bash

Marines tired of Turkey, time for Turkey Bash. Military Family Support could help you send a card at Thanksgiving, Christmas or anytime. You can send letters to a service man or woman, give pillows, paperback books, or even knit or crochet a warm hat for soldiers. U.S. Marine Corps Photo #14 by Lance Cpl. John Kennicutt

The Marines returned from their Iraq deployment, Nov. 25 just before the Thanksgiving Day holiday

Sgt. Jeff Gerbier, motor transportation operator, 6th Communications Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, and Brooklyn native, holds his daughter after returning Marines to their Brooklyn headquarters. The Marines returned from their deployment just before the Thanksgiving Day holiday. For soldiers who are parents, Operation Dog Tag helps connect with their children at home by sending specially engraved “with love from” Dog Tags for free to the service members for their children. Official Marine Corps Photo #15 by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton

It's hard to be apart from your family . . . especially around the holidays

It’s hard to be apart from your family . . . especially around the holidays. Sonar Technician 1st Class Christian More is greeted with a kiss by his girlfriend as he is the first to disembark the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) upon returning to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after completing a six-month deployment to the western Pacific. Have you heard of Operation Hi Honey? While it’s not focused on Christmas, it awards hundreds of our deployed men and women a free art canvas, printed from a favorite photo, which will be presented to their Honey on their anniversary. U.S. Navy Photo #16 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge

Happy USAF Thanksgiving

Happy USAF Thanksgiving. Airman 1st Class Trisha K. McDonald brings out the pumpkin pie Nov. 18 during the Thanksgiving holiday meal prepared for North Dakota Air National Guardsmen of the 119th Wing at Fargo. Would you consider being an angel for soldiers and adopting a military family for Christmas? You can send cards, letters, care packages or help Santa by stuffing stockings via Operation Christmas Stocking. Perhaps you’d like to support our troops and assist by adopting one soldier? Or maybe you could simply supply a few small things on a soldier’s wish list? U.S. Air Force Photo #17 by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp

USAF Academy Band at Macy's Thanksgiving parade

The U.S. Air Force Academy Marching Band marches down Broadway Nov. 23 at the 80th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, N.Y. When it comes to entertaining our soldiers, Operation Troop Aid provides concerts for our troops. The CEO said, “What better way to express our FREEDOM than to reach out to the ones that provide it. Please help us as we let them know they are NOT FORGOTTEN.” U.S. Air Force Photo #18 by Senior Airman Brian Ferguson

Santa is coming to town

Santa is coming to town. Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing give Santa a rideon a C-130 Hercules during Operation Toy Drop, Dec. 12, 2011, at Niagra Falls Air Reserve Station, Niagra Falls, N.Y. Operation Toy Drop is a week-long, philanthropic project where both American and foreign paratroopers stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. individually contribute new, unwrapped toys to be distributed to local children’s homes and social service agencies. If you would like to play Santa or be an angel for a solider, then you might check out CAUSE: Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services Elite Provides which has many programs to give comfort items for troops recuperating in military hospitals and rehabilitation centers from wounds and injuries. U.S. Air Force Photo #19 by Tech. Sgt. Joseph McKee

Navy wrap donated gifts for U.S. Sailors and their families at Polaris Point, Guam

Navy elves wrap donated gifts for U.S. Sailors and their families at Polaris Point, Guam. Have you considered helping out via Operation Ensuring Christmas? DoD Photo #20 by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Corey Hensley, U.S. Navy

dressed as Santa Claus while loading a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft prior to a mission from an undisclosed location in southwest Asia

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mike Morris dressed as Santa Claus while loading a pallet of fuel onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft prior to a mission from an undisclosed location in southwest Asia. The 816th EAS airdropped 40 pallets of fuel to remote forward operating bases in Afghanistan during missions in support of Enduring Freedom. You might want to play Santa’s little helper via Operation Shoebox, an organization sends shoeboxes to deployed troops with presents, snacks and greeting cards to troops. DoD Photo #21 by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon, U.S. Air Force

Gators pull Santa and his sleigh on the bow of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard

Gators pull Santa and his sleigh on the bow of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of the ship’s holiday lights display while pierside at Naval Base San Diego. The ship participated in a holiday lights contest hosted by the naval base and won first place for degree of difficulty. While it would most assuredly not be a pet alligator, you could also help out via the Military Pets Foster Project: Nationwide network of foster homes cares for the pets of deployed personnel. Navy Photo #22 by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Lausier, second from left, portrays Santa Claus while in formation with a group of fellow soldiers

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Lausier, second from left, portrays Santa Claus while in formation with a group of fellow soldiers assigned to the Kapisa Provincial Reconstruction Team, Task Force Lafayette, during a visit from Brig. Gen. Gary Volesky, the deputy commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force 1, in Kapisa province, Afghanistan. The Thank You Foundation “has developed several programs that not only say thank you, but also help provide assistance and resources that when viewed in their totality, offer support at a greater level than surface level generosity.” DoD Photo #23 by Specialist Ken Scar, U.S. Army

U.S. Navy ships and submarines moored in Pearl Harbor participating in the holiday season by decorating with lights in what has become an annual tradition

Los Angeles-class submarine USS La Jolla (SSN 701) joins other U.S. Navy ships and submarines moored in Pearl Harbor participating in the holiday season by decorating with lights in what has become an annual tradition. Speaking of Pearl Harbor, did you know that the Library of Congress has a Veterans History Project? It is first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans and civilians who supported them in wars. You could help conduct interviews or help collect original narratives, memoirs, audio, video, photos or submit wartime diaries. U.S. Navy Photo #24 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold displays its holiday lights

The guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold displays its holiday lights at Naval Base San Diego during the first Surface Navy Holiday Lights Competition. There are organizations that help hire a hero or built or adapt homes for injured veterans. U.S. Navy Photo #25 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher Regan

The holiday concert was held in celebration of the holiday season and the 50th Anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty

The U.S. 7th Fleet Band and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band, Tokyo, perform in front of an audience of 1,430 people at the Sumida Triphony Hall. The holiday concert was held in celebration of the holiday season and the 50th Anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, showcasing “A Lasting Partnership” between the two navies. If you have new or used CDs, DVDs, audio book, game systems, iPods, mp3 players or iTunes gift cards, Tunes 4 the Troops collects and sends your surplus music and movies to soldiers overseas. U.S. Navy Photo #26 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix

Musician 3rd Class Danielle Clark of the U.S. 7th Fleet Band

Musician 3rd Class Danielle Clark of the U.S. 7th Fleet Band, center, plays the flute alongside musicians of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band Yokosuka, in front of an audience of more than 500 people at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Fleet Theatre for the annual Holiday Concert. Do you have a spare musical instrument? If so, then you can donate it and Operation Happy Note gets instruments into the hands of our deployed service men and women who need them. U.S. Navy Photo #27 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix

Musician 3rd Class Roberto Wharton, assigned to U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, plays holiday tunes

Musician 3rd Class Roberto Wharton, assigned to U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, plays holiday tunes at the office of Commander Navy Region Hawaii. Did you know you can give your used CDs to CDs for Soldiers and they will be sent to wounded soldiers in military hospitals? U.S. Navy Photo #28 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico

Caroling commander

Chaplain (Maj.) Obadiah Smith (left), Col. William T. Cahoon and Santa Claus sing “Oh Christmas Tree” outside the Airman and family readiness center Dec. 3, 2011, at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind. Cahoon is the 434th Air Refueling Wing Commander and Smith is the 434th ARW chaplain. Operation Appreciation is a letter writing campaign, but Blue Star Families offers several different programs to troops and military families. U.S. Air Force Photo #29 by Senior Airman Andrew McLaughlin

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Choir members from the Kunsan Air Base Chapel sing Christmas carols during the tree lighting ceremony Dec. 16, 2011, at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The snowy ceremony featured traditional songs, comments by the wing commander, a family member lighting the tree and a visit from Santa. Are you a musician or singer? If so, you can upload your songs and send the gift of music to our troops. U.S. Air Force Photo #30 by Master Sgt. Sonny Cohrs

Singers from the U. S. Army Band 'Pershing's Own' perform holiday songs with Frosty the Snowma

Singers from the U. S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” perform holiday songs with Frosty the Snowman during the U.S. Army Military District of Washington annual Holiday Festival Concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. There is also Concerts For Troops: a national project dedicated to boosting the morale of United States military personnel by producing high quality musical entertainment for them. U.S. Army Photo #31 by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade

Shine brightly!

Shine brightly! The base community watches as the Christmas tree lights up during the annual tree lighting ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Families from the community gathered to hear Christmas carolers, watched the tree light up and had an opportunity to visit Santa. Would you consider getting involved with Trees for Troops? Then you would be helping to deliver the Spirit of Christmas. U.S. Air Force Photo #32 by Senior Airman Rylan Albright

Santa arrives in New Orleans

Santa arrives at Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans via a Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter, Dec. 10, 2011. Santa flew in to give early Christmas gifts to Coast Guard children during a unit holiday party. While our troops help make sure kids have a great holiday, there are several Operation Santas where you can help Santa visit the troops such as Operation Santa Claus for the wounded, and Operation Santa. U.S. Coast Guard Photo #33 by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephen Lehmann

Ho, ho, ho!!

Ho, ho, ho!! Left: Santa Claus waves from a C-130 Hercules as it taxis along the flightline at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Santa, aka Lt. Col. Lance Avery, made the early visit to the base for the 62nd Airlift Squadron children’s holiday party. Colonel Avery is the assistant director of operations for the 62nd AS. Right: Santa takes a moment to feed the reindeer in preparation for his big night at the family day for the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing at the Rosecrans Memorial Airport. We’ve seen Santa helping kids and shown many ways you send gifts to help lift the morale of our troops. If you are more of a gift certificate person, the you can send military gift cards virtually by e-mail or posting on Facebook. Or perhaps you would rather send gift cards and calling cards to a special soldier? Photo #34 by USAF & #35 by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson / USAF

Ellsworth members support Angel Tree program

A child enrolled in the Youth and Family Services child care center smiles in excitement while seeing Santa in Rapid City, S.D. This is the third time Santa, Mrs. Claus and Airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., bought, wrapped and delivered gifts for every child at the center. Just as no child should be forgotten at Christmas (or anytime), Operation Ward 57 makes sure no wounded soldier spends Christmas alone. U.S. Air Force Photo #36 by Airman 1st Class Corey Hook

Santa Claus flies in an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter

Santa Claus flies in an SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific to take part in the wing’s holiday party at Naval Air Station North Island. Did you know you could volunteer to greet returning service members at the airport to say thank you? You can even donate frequent flyer miles for Hero Miles or try out Hotel Heroes and donate your hotel points. U.S. Navy Photo #37 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Regan

Santa Claus is spotted aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS O'Kane

Santa really gets around. Do you have it in your heart to give back in some little elf way by sending a holiday card? Santa Claus is spotted aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG 77) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH). The ship’s Command Master Chief (SW/AW) David Blackburn donned the Santa suit as guests take a harbor tour around JBPHH to view decorated ships. There are so many ways you can support our troops. How about simply hugging a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman, or Coastguardsman, or trying out Hugs for Soldiers? U.S. Navy Photo #38 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico

Marines provide special escort for Santa

Santa Claus, portrayed by event coordinator Dick McCallum, rides alongside Sgt. Daniel M. Iversen in a CH-46 helicopter en route to route to the remote village of the Havasupai tribe in order to deliver Christmas gifts to children as part of the Toys for Tots program on Dec. 16. Iversen, a 31-year-old native of Torrance, Calif., was one of seven Marine reservists from the Phoenix-based Environmental Services Detachment who escorted Santa. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, a reserve unit based at Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles, has flown toys to the village’s children for Christmas as part of the Toys for Tots program for the past 14 years. If you are interested Operation Santa USMC is a holiday outreach for deployed US Marines and other troops. Photo #39 by United States Marine Corps

Santa gives a thumbs-up during the USO Holiday Troop Visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

Santa gives a thumbs-up during the USO Holiday Troop Visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 16, 2011. U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, led singer Jordin Sparks, actress Minka Kelly, former professional basketball player Robert Horry and comedian Thomas Miles to the Central Command area of responsibility to boost morale and deliver some holiday cheer to troops deployed overseas. If you are so inclined, then you could check out how you can help USO programs. If you too would like to lift morale or help play Santa, as you’ve seen, there are plenty of “free” ways you can help support our troops. Whatever you decide, be thankful and have a Happy Thanksgiving and holiday season! DoD Photo #40 by Airman 1st Class Cody Ramirez, U.S. Air Force

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