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Christmas in July

Airmen deployed to the 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron received Christmas-In-July care packages from the United Services Organization, Inc., in Southwest Asia, Aug. 8, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Minerva Rosario)

Airmen deployed to the 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron received Christmas-In-July care packages from the United Services Organization, Inc., in Southwest Asia, Aug. 8, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Minerva Rosario)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Southwest Asia is hot! How hot, you ask? Ask any one of the Airmen conducting base defense operations wearing 25 to 40 pounds of extra gear designed to protect them from dangers when it's 110 degrees.

At times it can be difficult to keep their morale up, to say the least, but not on Aug. 8! The 64th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and Force Protection Airmen were the excited recipients of the United Services Organization, Inc.'s Christmas-In-July program. This program sends off care packages to troops serving overseas, providing the little things that make deployed life a little more bearable.

If you're in the military I'm sure you're familiar with the USO's mission, "Lift the spirits of America's troops and their families."

That's certainly what happened here. Smiles and chatter were not in short supply when approximately 170 care packages were distributed. We have the pictures to prove it! The care packages included flip flops, DVDs, beef jerky, crossword books and stress "foamies" among other things.

Making all this happen was our operations superintendent, Senior Master Sgt. Blake Holm. In April, Holm was awaiting airflow from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., where the USO had a reception area setup with food, snacks and care packages. There he met M.J. Flammer, the USO operations manager, who handed him her business card and said, "Contact me when you get to your deployed location."

Shortly after arriving, Holm reached back to her and three months later, the unit began receiving box after box full of care packages. The USO made sure each Airman received their own package.

Holm said, "Knowing there are still dedicated patriots at home caring for our troops makes being away from family worthwhile."

Lt. Col. Matthew Wadd, the 64th ESFS commander, added, "The smallest gestures of the New Jersey USO team truly made a big impact during our departure and continues to amaze us of their support."

While we are thankful for these items received, we will continue to make America proud by doing what our country has asked of us. Today, we salute the USO for their unwavering dedication to our military; not just for Christmas-In-July, but for all of the things they provide -- food, entertainment, programs and certainly USO centers around every Airport -- when all a troop might need is a place to rest their head.