22 December 2012

Santa visits wounded warriors, staff members at hospital in Afghanistan

Santa Claus gives a Christmas stocking to wounded warrior Spc. Joseph Beldon, at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2012. Photo: Staff Sgt. David J. Overson.

Santa visits wounded warriors, staff members at hospital in Afghanistan

By Staff Sgt. David J. Overson, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGRAM, Afghanistan (Dec. 19, 2012) -- For many service members deployed to Afghanistan, Christmas can be a very emotional and depressing time of year, as they are separated from their friends and family back home. However, this year, Santa came to town and brought joy with him as he gave Christmas stockings to staff members and patients at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, at Bagram Airfield, Dec. 18.

Santa wandered the halls passing out stockings filled with fun to every staff member and patient he passed. For those not on shift yet, he left some behind. For the wounded warriors lying in hospital beds, Santa was a sight for sore eyes.

Spc. Joseph Beldon, an infantryman with Delta Company, 3-187 Infantry Regiment "Iron Rakkasans," and a native of Danville, Ky., was excited to see Santa.

"It means a lot to get a stocking this close to Christmas," said Beldon. "I've been sitting here in the hospital for five days by myself, and seeing Santa here really cheers you up."

Santa's workshop was assisted this year by the Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City, Nev., when they sent more than 300 hand-made stockings filled with items to Craig Joint Theater Hospital.

Once the hospital received the stockings, staff members reached out to Santa, who agreed to come early this year and spread some Christmas cheer.

"It's awesome to be able to give these stockings out," said Santa. "I know everyone here is missing their friends and families back home, so when I give them a stocking, I can see it really lifts their spirits."

U.S. Air Force chaplain Capt. Peter Drury, the hospital chaplain, feels this is the best medicine both the staff and patients can receive this time of year.

"It's great. It shows that both Santa and the people back home are thinking about us," said Drury.

Santa wanted everyone to know that though he arrived early in Afghanistan, his regular deliveries will be on time.

More photos at the link.

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