Monday, December 25, 2006
Santa arrived early for sailors deployed here in Afghanistan, as Senior Navy Central Command enlisted officials delivered gifts from 26 U.S. corporate sponsors. More than 75 volunteers assembled the 8,000 gift boxes for sailors stationed in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, including Afghanistan. "We're here to visit as many sailors as possible," said Navy Command Master Chief James Russell, command master chief of the U.S.S Dwight D. Eisenhower, as he handed out gifts last week. "We're just trying to bring a little bit of Christmas cheer." Sailors at the Navy Morale Welfare Recreation center here were surprised by the dozens of boxes.Before handing out the presents, the Navy NCOs took turns expressing their gratitude for the sailors' service, and the group joined together to sing the Christmas carols. The gift boxes included candy, soda, a phone card and greeting cards praising them for their hard work and effort. "It was a surprise," said Navy Seaman Recruit Brandon Thompson, a culinary specialist with the VAQ-142 Squadron. "A lot of sponsors chipped in. It's a nice box, and it got the morale up." "These sailors that are over here have been asked to go a step above their usual level of responsibility," Russell said. "These gifts are well-deserved and well-received."