Blog Archives

Christmas Time in Baghdad

“Christmas Time in Baghdad” Written and performed by John Proctor, an Army Chaplain Assistant who has served in Iraq as well as a number of other overseas locations. Christmas Time in Baghdad is a “true account from Christmas 2003 which was celebrated in Baghdad, Iraq with the 82nd Airborne.” The 2nd verse begins, “The Chaplain preached the Gospel..”

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Christmas at War

For as long as we’ve been a nation (and even before) American Service Members have been deployed during the holidays. Here’s a short video that shows some of the Christmas scenes from wartime deployments and the home front during war.

With this video goes out a special “Merry Christmas!” to our armed forces wherever they may be serving this Christmas.

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WW2 Steel-Cover NT a “Racket”?

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WW2 Gold-plated, steel-covered New Testament (photo courtesy Chaplain Bob Nay)

We’ve probably all heard stories of Soldiers’ lives saved by that New Testament with a steel cover kept in the breast pocket, given to them by their wife or mother before they left for war. While we can’t be certain those stories are true, we can be certain those Bibles and other “rackets” practiced during World War Two raised suspicion at the time, as being “schemes” to prey on the fears and misfortunes encountered during war. Here is a news article from a 1944 Stars and Stripes warning about some of them:

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Rackets Breed on War Misery1

Sales of ‘Armored’ Bibles For Protection in Combat Just One of Schemes

WASHINGTON, July 30, 1944 (UP)–Authorities are clamping down on racketeers who are making fortunes out of the misfortunes of others during the war.

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Steel-covered New Testament given to Seaman 2nd Class Richard M. Chernich by Chaplain J. F. Moore of the U.S.S. Baxter (author’s collection)

A ‘Bible racket’ which trades on the anxiety of families and friends of men in the services is an example. Thousands of Bibles, prayer books, and other religious books are being sold with light steel covers as ‘heart protectors.’

‘Far from saving a soldier’s life,’ said Miss Patricia Lochridge, Washington correspondent of the Woman’s Home magazine, ‘the books may actually cause more serious damage. The ordinary rifle bullet becomes virtually a dum-dum bullet upon striking an armored book.’

Another new racket is the person who listens to enemy shortwave broadcasts and takes down the names of prisoners. He then calls on the relatives and offers to repeat the messages for sums ranging from $3 to $100.

Another racket is for letters to be sent to relatives of men whose names have appeared in casualty lists asking for the return of money which the write claims to have lent the soldier.

With increasing numbers of casualties returning, rackets involving the wounded are also flourishing. One organization collected funds for ambulances. In its pamphlet the organization claimed that ‘the government does not provide ambulance equipment for its soldiers. The government policy is to let the Army depend upon the civilian population for ambulances.’

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1“The Stars and Stripes,” Vol. 4, No. 231, July 31, 1944, pg. 3.

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Original article from The Stars and Stripes, 31 July 1944, pg 3 (author’s collection)

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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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Christmas at War

For as long as we’ve been a nation (and even before) American Service Members have been deployed during the holidays. Here’s a short video that shows some of the Christmas scenes from wartime deployments and the home front during war.

With this video goes out a special “Merry Christmas!” to our armed forces wherever they may be serving this Christmas.

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Thanksgiving at the Front

Few Thanksgiving Days have passed without there being Service Members from the United States stationed somewhere around the world, away from family and usually far from home. Missing holidays and special family occasions is a fact of military life. Here are a few pictures from our archives of some of those Thanksgivings from our history.

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Civil War soldiers enjoying a Thanksgiving meal.

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Chaplain Judah Nadich delivers a sermon to American servicemen at a Thanksgiving service in the rue de la Victoire synagogue in Paris, 23 November 1944.

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Men of the US Army Air Corps listen to a sermon on ‘The Source of our Strength’ during a Thanksgiving service at Cransley in Northamptonshire. The sermon is being given by Chaplain Ward J Fellows. Just visible to the left of the pulpit is Reverend Greville-Cooke, the vicar of Cransley, 23 November 1944.

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Chaplain F. McDonald 1944

Chaplain F. McDonald of the 12th Army Special Troops, leads a Thanksgiving prayer for the leaders of the 12th Army in 1944.

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Chaplain Gercke

“Chaplain (Capt.) Henry A. Gereke, U.S. Army, St. Louis, Mo., reads a short sermon to the audience celebrating Thanksgiving day in the court room of the Palace of Justice, Nuernberg, Germany. The audience consisted mostly of Allied representatives to the International military tribunal, which included Francis Biddle, Robert Jackson, and Justice Birkett, representing the U.S. during the trials. 11-22-45. Signal Corps Photo. Please credit. Released by authority of the Bureau of Public Relations or by Theatre Press Censor.”

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Chaplain Riddle Conducts Thanksgiving Day Services in Korea, 23 Nov 50.

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“The hood of a jeep serves as a makeshift altar for Cdr Martin J. Doermann, 12th Marines regimental chaplain, at Gio Linh, south of the Demilitarized Zone, on Thanksgiving Day 1968. Cdr Doermann was among 20 chaplains visiting forward units that holiday.” (DoD photo)

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Chaplain (CPT) Daryl Densford praying before the Thanksgiving meal at Basrah, Iraq, 27 November 2008.

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Chaplain (CPT) Daryl Densford leads a Thanksgiving worship service with American and British Service Members at Camp Basrah, Iraq, 27 November 2008.

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Chaplain Daryl Densford

Chaplain (CPT) Daryl Densford visiting Soldiers of 3-159 ARB at a FARP in eastern Iraq on Thanksgiving weekend in 28 November 2008.

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Lieutenant Commander Paul A. Anderson, a Navy Chaplain and pastor from Perham’s New Creation Lutheran Church, blesses Marines at an outpost in Iraq during a communion service over Thanksgiving weekend, 2008.

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Maj. Gen Vincent Brooks, 1st Infantry Division and United States Division-South Commanding General, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas Carver, United States Army Chaplain, Lt. Col. Timothy Mallard, 1st Infantry Division and USD-S chaplain and Cpt. Johnvianney Ijeoma, 1st Inf. Div., Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion chaplain recites a hymn at the Post Chapel Thanksgiving worship service Nov. 25, 2010 in Basra, Iraq. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Chanelcherie DeMello, USD-S Public Affairs)

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Soldiers and civilians recite a scripture from the bible at the Post Chapel Thanksgiving worship service Nov. 25, 2010 in Basra, Iraq. The ceremony featured a sermon and testament from guest speaker Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas Carver, United States Army chaplain, in honor of Thanksgiving. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Chanelcherie DeMello, USD-S Public Affairs)

 

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Wherever you are today, whether it’s with your family at home, or with your brothers and sisters in arms somewhere far from home, our prayer and hope for you is that you will have a Happy Thanksgiving with much to thank God for!

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