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Deployed service members celebrate Christmas

A cake decorated with a snowman is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. The cake was one of three offered for desert to the hundreds of service members who attended the holiday lunch on Christmas day. The holiday menu included lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A cake decorated with a snowman is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. The cake was one of three offered for desert to the hundreds of service members who attended the holiday lunch on Christmas day. The holiday menu included lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A cake decorated with the American flag is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. The cake was one of three offered for desert to the hundreds of service members who attended the holiday lunch on Christmas day. The holiday menu included lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A cake decorated with the American flag is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. The cake was one of three offered for desert to the hundreds of service members who attended the holiday lunch on Christmas day. The holiday menu included lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A Christmas village made out of a variety of ingredients is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25 during the Christmas lunch service. The display was one of many available to attendees of the holiday meal. Hundreds of service members attended the meal service which featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A Christmas village made out of a variety of ingredients is displayed inside the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25 during the Christmas lunch service. The display was one of many available to attendees of the holiday meal. Hundreds of service members attended the meal service which featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. Charles McFarland, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group commander, serves food to service members at the Manhattan Dining Facility during the Christmas lunch service at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. McFarland joined several members of AUAB leadership in the holiday tradition. The holiday menu featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. Charles McFarland, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group commander, serves food to service members at the Manhattan Dining Facility during the Christmas lunch service at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. McFarland joined many members of AUAB leadership in the holiday tradition. The holiday menu featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. Stuart Newberry, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander, serves lunch to service members at the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. Newberry joined several members of AUAB leadership in the holiday tradition. The holiday menu featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. Stuart Newberry, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander, serves lunch to service members at the Independence Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 25. Newberry joined many members of AUAB leadership in the holiday tradition. The holiday menu featured lobster, turkey and a variety of deserts including pie and ice cream. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Senior Airman Christopher Taylor, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group medical logistician from Hendersonville, Tennessee, speaks to Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, over the phone at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 24. James telephoned several airmen to wish them a happy holiday and to express her appreciation for their service. Taylor was the only airman at AUAB to receive the honor and said he’s thankful for such a rare opportunity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Senior Airman Christopher Taylor, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group medical logistician from Hendersonville, Tennessee, speaks to Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, over the phone at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 24. James telephoned several airmen to wish them a happy holiday and to express her appreciation for their service. Taylor was the only airman at AUAB to receive the honor and said he’s thankful for such a rare opportunity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Master Sgt. Daira Hall, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing first sergeant from Minneapolis, Minnesota, delivers holiday stockings filled with candy, games and Christmas cards to security forces airmen at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Hall said the first sergeants decided to deliver the stockings to security forces Airmen to thank them for all they do to keep people safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Master Sgt. Daira Hall, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing first sergeant from Minneapolis, Minnesota, delivers holiday stockings filled with candy, games and Christmas cards to security forces airmen at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Hall said the first sergeants decided to deliver the stockings to security forces Airmen to thank them for all they do to keep people safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Senior Master Sgt. Temekia Clinkscales 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, delivers a holiday stocking filled with candy, games and Christmas cards to a security forces airman at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Clinkscales said the first sergeants decided to deliver the stockings to security forces Airmen to thank them for all they do to keep people safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Senior Master Sgt. Temekia Clinkscales 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, delivers a holiday stocking filled with candy, games and Christmas cards to a security forces airman at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Clinkscales said the first sergeants decided to deliver the stockings to security forces Airmen to thank them for all they do to keep people safe. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. David Blocker, Combined Air and Space Operations Center Air Force Forces command surgeon, sings with the Protestant Praise Team during the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Col. David Blocker, Combined Air and Space Operations Center Air Force Forces command surgeon, sings with the Protestant Praise Team during the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Maj. Crescent Seibert, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Element Chief, sings with the Protestant Praise Team during the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Seibert used to be a member of the Air Force Band and said she enjoys singing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
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Maj. Crescent Seibert, 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Element Chief, sings with the Protestant Praise Team during the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Seibert used to be a member of the Air Force Band and said she enjoys singing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

1st Lt. Kevin Stoll, U.S. Air Force’s Central Operations Directorate and lead singer for the Protestant Praise Team, sings and plays the guitar during a performance at the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Stoll has played the guitar for eight years and said he enjoys using music to lift people’s spirits. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
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1st Lt. Kevin Stoll, U.S. Air Force’s Central Operations Directorate and lead singer for the Protestant Praise Team, sings and plays the guitar during a performance at the Christmas at the Plaza concert at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 23. Stoll has played the guitar for eight years and said he enjoys using music to lift people’s spirits. The concert featured numerous holiday favorites including “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Brig. Gen. Darren James, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, waves goodbye to nearly 20 children from a fire truck outside the Blatchford-Preston Complex Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 19. James played the role of Santa during the Breakfast with Santa event and presented every child at the event with a gift. Nearly 20 families took part in the event which featured a pajama contest, designing holiday stockings, decorating gingerbread cookies and coloring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
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Brig. Gen. Darren James, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, waves goodbye to nearly 20 children from a fire truck outside the Blatchford-Preston Complex Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 19. James played the role of Santa during the Breakfast with Santa event and presented every child at the event with a gift. Nearly 20 families took part in the event which featured a pajama contest, designing holiday stockings, decorating gingerbread cookies and coloring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Good (left), 379th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief, holds a present for a child attending the Breakfast with Santa event and listens as the child explains what he wants for Christmas to Santa, Brig. Gen. Darren James (center), 379 AEW commander, inside the Blatchford-Preston Complex Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 19. Nearly 20 families took part in the event which featured a pajama contest, designing holiday stockings, decorating gingerbread cookies and coloring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)
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Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Good (left), 379th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief, holds a present for a child attending the Breakfast with Santa event and listens as the child explains what he wants for Christmas to Santa, Brig. Gen. Darren James (center), 379 AEW commander, inside the Blatchford-Preston Complex Dining Facility at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar Dec. 19. Nearly 20 families took part in the event which featured a pajama contest, designing holiday stockings, decorating gingerbread cookies and coloring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --

Deployed service members at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, celebrated Christmas with several events including Breakfast with Santa, a holiday concert, a movie marathon and a holiday meal served by base leadership on Christmas day.

One Airman even received a call from Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James.

“I was honored to get a call from the Secretary of the Air Force,” said Senior Airman Christopher Taylor, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group medical logistician from Hendersonville, Tennessee. “I know she’s very busy and there are a lot of Airmen in the Air Force so it’s pretty special to receive that call.”

James asked Taylor about how his career, life at AUAB and how he and his family were doing before wishing Taylor a Merry Christmas.

“That was neat,” Taylor said. “I’m thankful she asked about me and my family because it shows she cares.”

Tops in Blue, an expeditionary entertainment unit, performed at AUAB on Christmas night entertaining hundreds of service members with hit songs including “Uptown Funk,” “Your Lips Are Moving,” and “Thinking Out Loud.” The group also honored six airmen who were killed in action in Afghanistan on Dec. 21 with a moment of silence and a patriotic song entitled “Hero For Today.”

“For the rest of our tour we are going to honor those airmen and any other fallen or wounded warriors because they are our heroes,” said Jeremy Karcher, a vocalist with Tops in Blue.

“I joined Tops in Blue so I can honor the men and women who wear the uniform,” Karcher said.

Staff Sgt. Jessica Pitts, a vocalist and trumpet player with Tops in Blue currently on her second tour with the group, said she volunteered for a second tour after three years to honor America’s fighting men and women.

“I wanted to bring the feeling of home to deployed service members and honor our fallen airmen, that’s why we are here,” Pitts said.

“Every time we put on the uniform, every time we wake up in the morning, we are serving our country and it’s important we honor and respect that,” Pitts said.

While hundreds of service members attended a variety of events on Christmas day, AUAB hosted many events leading up to the holiday.

Capt. Christopher Fosburg, 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron Operations Flight commander, attended the Breakfast with Santa event on Dec. 19 with his five children and said it’s important people participate in holiday events.  

“Events like this are really all we have,” Fosburg said. “We don’t have many moments to get together as a family due to work and everything and events like this provide an opportunity to create memories.” 

Nearly 20 command sponsored families took part in the Breakfast with Santa event and several of them joined a few hundred service members at Memorial Plaza Dec. 23 for the Christmas at the Plaza holiday concert featuring the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Choir and the Protestant Contemporary Praise Team.

1st Lt. Kevin Stoll, U.S. Air Force’s Central Operations Directorate and lead singer for the praise team, said he enjoyed bringing some holiday cheer to AUAB.

Music is powerful and it can bring people together, Stoll said.

The holidays can be the hardest time during deployments so it’s important to take part in events like this and give people a taste of home, he added.

The praise team performed four songs including a version of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” which was greeted by cheers from the crowd.  

Hours before the concert several AUAB first sergeants delivered Christmas stockings filled with snacks, games and Christmas cards to security forces airmen.

“We wanted our security forces airmen to know how much we appreciate them for all they do to keep us safe,” said Master Sgt. Daira Hall, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing first sergeant.

“Our defenders stand guard and they do so honorably,” Hall said. “They have also recently lost some of their brothers in Afghanistan and I thought they could use some holiday cheer.”