Christmas at the Front

Just like Thanksgiving, few Christmases roll around without the United States having hundreds or thousands of Service Members deployed to various parts of the world fighting for and defending freedom. It seldom fails that wherever our armed forces find themselves, they find ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Here are some examples of Christmas celebrations at the front…and a few from the “Homefront.”

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George Washington visits the troops encamped at Valley Forge over Christmas, 1777

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Christmas dinner of enlisted men at Valdahon, France, 1917

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Christmas decorations in the Y.M.C.A. at Valdahon, France, 1917

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Officers of Headquarters 79th Division, who served cocoa, sandwiches, cake, orange, nuts, grapes, cigars, and cigarettes to enlisted men of Headquarters at Y.M.C.A. Christmas night. Dugny, Meuse, France. Dec. 25, 1918

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All Pennsylvania soldiers in Co. B of the 10th Regiment in Camp Lee’s Quartermaster Replacement Center gather to sing carols around the tree to show how men of the Keystone State demonstrate Christmas spirit. Camp Lee, Virginia. December 1941.

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“Continuous night bombing schedule of the intensive bombardier training program allows no time out for Christmas Eve worship. Lt. Eugene F. McCahey, flying chaplain of San Angelo Army Air Field, bring the Christmas message to the bomber flight line on Dec. 24, 1942. Pausing after the cadets receive his blessing before continuing their practice blasting of the 18,000 acres of this bombardier school’s night target bombing ranges in San Angelo, Texas. Chaplain McCahey is himself a pilot.” (AP Photo).

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A Sherman tank with a Christmas greeting painted on its hull, Benghazi, 26 December 1942.

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U.S. Soldiers Caroleers Circle Globe. The Christmas spirit is universal, the traditions unchanging even in the midst of war. Where ever our American troops are to be found throughout the world Christmas Carols will be heard in joyful hymns on the eve of the Nativity of Christ. In India – “Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels”. 1942

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Chaplain Lt. Col. William King leads troops of the 45th in Christmas Day services in Italy, 25 December 1943

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“Christmas Day services near the front, in Italy. Lt. Col. William E. King, of Kansas City, Mo., Chaplain of the 45th Division, speaks to men assembled near their Bivouac Area. Notice the Young dog by the Altar.” Venafro area, Italy. 25 December 1943.

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“1st LT Harvey Floyd Bell, Chaplain of 1st Bn., 180th Inf. Regt., says grace before Christmas dinner is served.” Demanio area, Italy. 25 December 1943

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“During prayer, the flag is lowered at outdoor Christmas Day services conducted by LT Aloysis S. Carney, Jersey City, New Jersey, at Headquarters of 120th Medical Clearing Co.” Venafro area, Italy. 25 December 1943

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Somewhere in the Pacific, Depot Chapel decorated for Christmas, 1944

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Somewhere in the Pacific, Christmas worship service in the Depot Chapel, 1944

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Soldiers of the 463rd Combat Engineers in France near the German border pause to observe Christmas the best way they could 25 December 1944. Note K-ration cans as ornaments and three stacked M1 Garand rifles

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General Patton’s Christmas greeting to his troops, Christmas 1944. On the reverse side was the prayer for good weather written by his chaplain

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An American MP stands stands guard in front of a 65 ft. tree at the top of Radicosa Pass; 2500 ft. in the Appennine Mountains. Italy, December 18, 1944

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US Army soldiers stationed in the small Luxembourg town of Wiltz, gave the townfolk, and especially the children, a St. Nicholas Day celebration in Dec 1944

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Christmas greetins from Chaplain William J. Mahoney, 121st Medical BN, South Pacific, 1944

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Bundles from America for soldiers in the field with Field Artillery Unit in Germany. Holding Christmas packages are, left to right: Pfc. W.J. Kessler; Pfc. J.L. Proffitt; Pvt. B. Narter; Cpl. T.J. Barnewski; and Pfc. J. Stoll. 11/26/44

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CHRISTMAS SERVICE – Personnel of the 303rd Bomb Group receive the Sacrament Of Holy Communion at an airbase somewhere in England. 26 December 1944

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Manger scene in Yokota, Japan, 1951

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Korean KP decorates Christmas tree set up in front of serving counter of HQs & HQs Co, 19th Inf Regt, 24th US Inf Div, as Christmas Day dinner is readied for men of the Co. Korea. 25 December 1951

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Men of Co “B”, 4th Signal Bn, X US Corps, prepare to decorate the Christmas tree at Bn HQ. Korea. 11 December 1951

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Men of Co “F”, 9th Inf Regt, 2nd U.S. Inf Div, enjoy their Christmas Day dinner at CO HQS, Korea. 25 December 1951

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Soldiers in Germany prepare to deliver gifts to local children, 1953

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Navy Chaplain Capodanno with a manager scene in Vietnam, 1966

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1967-12-25 – C Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, 25th Inf Division, Manchus, Young and Christmas tree at Katum chow line Cambodian border. 1967 Katum, Late Dec — Young is holding our Christmas dinners, as I took the picture of him with the tree. Young was killed in the March 2, 1968 at the Hoc Mon bridge ambush

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Soldier eats Christmas dinner by a simple Christmas Tree. Vietnam, ca 1967

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The troops get a visit from Santa Claus. Vietnam ca 1968

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U.S. soldiers set up a Christmas tree in a spare mortar pit at the Duc Lap Special Forces camp. 1969. (Bettmann/CORBIS)

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Christmas in Vietnam, ca 1970

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Soldiers gather around a small Christmas tree for a picture. Vietnam, ca 1972

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Army Spc. Freddy Barahona, left, and Army Spc. Michael Hanes enjoy their Christmas at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 2004 (photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kristin Fitzsimmons, USN)

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Army Sgt. Maj. Della St. Louis, operations sergeant major for Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, takes her real Christmas tree on a tour of Camp Taji, Iraq, to have soldiers of the camp help decorate it, 2004 (Cpl. Benjamin Cossel, USA)

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Santa visits the troops, ca 2005

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U.S. Navy Lt. Jennifer Bowder, a chaplain with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, conducts a Christmas service for U.S. Marines and Soldiers at Combat Post Heider in Rabiah, Iraq, Dec. 29, 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jason W. Fudge/Released)

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Santa gets a lift from a Blackhawk helicopter to visit the troops, ca 2010

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Dec 24 2010: A U.S. Airman carries a candle to light those of his colleagues during a ceremony on the eve of Christmas at the US base of Camp Phoenix in Kabul Afghanistan (AP)

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Santa visits the troops in Bagram, Afghanistan, ca 2012

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Altar prepared for Christmas Worship by Navy Chaplain Jonathon Maloney at FOB Deli, Afghanistan, 2012

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Christmas greetings sent from Camp Clark, Khost Provence, Afghanistan, 2014

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Santa visits the troops, ca 2015

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SGT Santa Claus stands in formation with his elves, ca 2015

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First Sergeant Santa Claus marches with Marines, ca 2015

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Navy Chaplain Jonathon Maloney stands by the Christmas tree in his office on the USS San Diego while at sea, Christmas 2017

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On the Homefront: Cantonement Chapel on Fort Leonard Wood decorated for Christmas during World War II

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On the Homefront: The Panzer “Santa”, with well-filled sack of radios, books, cookies, and other gifts dear to soldiers hearts, glides up to the door of the barracks in Camp Lee’s Quartermaster Corps and it isn’t hampered by lack of snow in Virginia. Camp Lee, Virginia, Quartermaster Replacement Center. December 1941

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On the Homefront: Christmas Eve service at the Main Post Chapel on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 2015

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On the Homefront: Christmas Day Mass at the Old Post Chapel at Fort Hood, led by Father Lito Amande, 2015

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On the Homefront: Interior of St. Mary’s Chapel at Fort Riley, decorated for Christmas, 2016

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Wherever you’re reading this from, either from a deployed location or at home, or a family member missing their deployed service member, If you celebrate Christmas, I wish for you a very blessed and merry holiday season and pray for the safe return of all of our deployed and separated service members!

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About Daryl Densford

I am an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene serving as an active-duty Army Chaplain. I am currently the Chaplain Resource Manager at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

Posted on 23 December 2017, in Chaplaincy, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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