Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: 'Holidays' (22) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 22

May 8, 2015 at 6:47am

Mother's Day on JBLM

Looking for ways to celebrate mom and stay close to JBLM at the same time.  Here are a few ideas we picked up from JBLM officials:

Mother/Son Dance at McChord Club

When: Today, 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Ballroom

Where: The Club at McChord Field, 700 Barnes Blvd., McChord Field.

Pricing is $17 per couple, $7 for each additional son. Call or visit the Club at McChord Field for reservations 253-982-5581. Payment required prior to event. No walk-ins. Includes dancing, refreshments, games and prizes.

Raft with Mom on the Wenatchee River

When: Sunday

Where:Wenatchee, Wash. Meet at the Northwest Adventure Center, located at 8050 NCO Beach Road, Lewis North, at 8 a.m.

Northwest Adventure Center is providing a fun rafting trip special for Mother’s Day. The cost is $65 per person and reservations can be made at 253-967-6263.

Mother’s Day Brunch at McChord Club

When: Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where:The Club at McChord Field, 700 Barnes Blvd., McChord Field

Treat Mom to brunch at the Club at McChord Field for delicious breakfast and lunch dishes. All you can eat. Reservations are required, call 253-982-5581. Full menu and prices can be found at

Filed under: Holidays,

November 28, 2013 at 8:47am

A Lancer Thanksgiving: Two turkeys are spared at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Turkey cooked to perfection at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The two turkeys in the cage in front of the Lancer dining facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord North yesterday were the lucky ones.

They weren't being cooked and then eaten.

Inside the facility, soldiers from 2nd Brigade (Lancers), 2nd Infantry Division enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner comprised of roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots, lobster, gravy, stuffing, pie, cake, breads, ice cream and - yes - turkey.

"We've spent the last three weeks getting ready for today," Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Campbell, the dining facility manager, said as we watched his staff work to keep the food coming.

"This is definitely the busiest day of the year for us, and we're prepared to serve up to 1,500 soldiers today."

>>> Spc. Keith Welch butters carrots during an annual Joint Base Lewis-McChord Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday, Nov. 27. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Some of the brigade's officers and senior noncommissioned officers served the Thanksgiving repast to their soldiers and their families.

As soldiers filed past the brigade's Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Dotson, he would ask them what their physical fitness score was.

"That's a great score," Dotson said as he piled roast beef onto their plates.  "Now have a wonderful Thanksgiving."

>>> Sgt. 1stClass Yao Pan puts the finishing touches on a fruit garnish in preparation for a Thanksgiving dinner at the Lancer Dining Facility. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Working beside the sergeant major, Col. Louis Zeisman carved beef and had a kind word for every soldier that passed by.

"These soldiers we are serving are the heroes," he said during a brief pause in the serving line.

"It's our privilege to serve them and their families."

>>> More than 500 pounds of turkey were prepared and served for the soldiers of 2nd Brigade.  These two were lucky. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>>  One of the most popular lines was the pie line. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>>  PV2 Aaron Kalior made sure there were plenty of cakes, cookies and sweetbreads during the Thanksgiving dinner. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>>  Command Sgt. Maj. Cedric More, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, serves a soldier his Thanksgiving dinner. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>>  Col. Louis Zeisman, commander, 2nd Brigade (Lancers), 2nd Infantry Division and CSM Timothy Dotson helped to serve soldiers their Thanksgiving dinner. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> A large sculpture of a Native American warrior on horse back dominated the dining area where Lancer soldiers enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinners. Spc. Raphael Yee used tallow to create the iconic image. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

November 21, 2013 at 11:07am

Words & Photos: JBLM Santa's Castle Ruck March with the 555th Engineer Brigade

Spc. Robert Powell, 14th Engineer Battalion, got into the spirit of the season for a 2.6 mile walk from the 555th Engineer Brigade Headquarters to the American Lake Conference Center. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

It was cold and dark this morning on Able Field behind the 555th Engineer Brigade's headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

But the lights, the music and the spirit were bright and warm.

"We are a giving organization," Col. Nicholas Katers said before beginning the 2.6-mile Santa's Castle Ruck March that ended at the American Lake Conference Center.

"We are giving back to our own."

>>> Santa Claus, also known as Spc. Andrew Cuadrado, led the 15th Annual 555thEngineer Brigade Santa's Castle Ruck March featured more than 1,000 soldiers delivering over 2,500 toys for distribution to children. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The festive march supports Santa's Castle, an organization that has provided gifts to the children of Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, activated National Guard and Reservist families experiencing financial difficulty.

Last year Santa's Castle provided gifts to almost 2,000 children in more than 800 families.

>>> Pfc. Dylan Lake's red and green chemical lights helped light the way for the Santa's Castle Ruck March. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"This is an awesome event, a time to give to those who may not have anything for Christmas," Spc. Alex Wilhelm said.

"We are the largest contributor of gifts to Santa's Castle, and we are proud of that."

Each soldier bought and contributed at least one gift to Santa's Castle. Many gave more.

"I bought one of my favorite toys as a little girl," Spc. Tiffany Johnson said as she pulled out a Barbie doll.

"I hope this makes some little girl happy."

>>> Spc. Alex Wilhelm, 110th Chemical Engineers Battalion, was all smiles after completing the Santa's Castle Ruck March. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> Col. Nicholas Katers, commander, 555th Engineer Brigade, and CSM Kevin Bryan lead over 1000 soldiers on the Santa's Castle Ruck March this morning. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> Capt. Jamie Matthews holds Fedora after the completing the 2.6 mile march from the "Triple Nickel's" headquarters to the American Lake Conference Center. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

>>> Attired for the Christmas Season, soldiers attached to the 555th Engineer Brigade bought and contributed over 2500 toys to Santa's Castle. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

See Also

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May 27, 2013 at 3:33pm

Joint Base Lewis-McChord honors Memorial Day

1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment honors the fallen during a Memorial Day service at the Fort Lewis Cemetery. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Joint Base Lewis-McChord came together today at the Fort Lewis Cemetery to honor the nation's fallen.

"Today, we remember and honor the American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and women, Marines and Coast Guard personnel, ordinary men and women, who died while in military service," Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza said while a steady, light rain fell.

"The graves at Arlington and at cemeteries like this one remind us that freedom is not free.  It has a cost.  The Soldiers resting here lived supporting the lives and values that are the backbone of our nation," the commander of the 7th Infantry Division added.

Joining Lanza where hundreds of service members, Gold Star mothers and dependents, area residents and local elected and retired officials.

"I came to pay my respects," Erika Clayton said as she waited for the commemoration to begin. 

"I want to remember these heroes who have done so much for this country. Their service is close to my heart."

A short distance away, Larry Paulson walked - and paused often - among the white, granite headstones.

"I respect this place," the Vietnam veteran said quietly. "I feel as though I know every person here; I am the groundskeeper here, and I am honored to serve here."

>>> With the 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment in the background and Sgt. Garrett Tignor, I Corps Honor Guard, in the foreground, the JBLM community honored the fallen at the Fort Lewis Cemetery during a Memorial Day commemoration.Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

After the laying of a wreath and a 21-gun salute, there was a one-minute moment of silence. 

"This was touching," Spc. Derrick Helsel, I Corps Honor Guard, said as people began to head make their way home.

"I honor the sense of sacrifice, and I am honored to be here."

>>> Spc. Derrick Helsel, I Corps Honor Guard, waits in the rain during a Memorial Day commemoration at the Fort Lewis Cemetery. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

May 23, 2013 at 2:35pm

The Arlington Project at Clover Park High School

Students at Clover Park High School work on The Arlington Project. In its eighth year, it honors the 6,650 service members who have fallen since 9/11. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Ariona Hendricks walked along a long row of stakes, each with the name of a fallen service member.

"I'm looking to make sure there are no duplicates," the Clover Park High School sophomore said. 

"It's a sign of respect to honor those who have given they lives for us."

As Memorial Day approaches, Clover Park High School students have been engaged in The Arlington Project.

Begun eight years ago by instructors David Russell and Bryan Winkler, the stakes are laid out in the exact same way the headstones are at Arlington National Cemetery.

>>> Cpl. Brandan Craig, Army, is remembered as part of The Arlington Project. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"When we started in 2005, there were 4,564," Winkler said.  "Now there are 6,650 - all deserving of recognition."

Zoey Selby agreed.

A senior at Clover Park High School, she invites the public to join her in a HERO - WOD, or Workout of the Day, activity.

"We can use a good physical workout to remember those who worked hard and gave their lives for us," Selby said.

For more information on this project, visit

Filed under: Holidays, Memorial, Lakewood, Education,

December 16, 2010 at 2:09pm

Servicemembers create holiday poem and video

WASHINGTON (AFPS) — Servicemembers stationed from Antarctica to Afghanistan lent their talents and time to craft a video for a poem titled "'Twas a Night in December," based on Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," but rewritten with a military twist.

More than 40 commands around the world, representing every branch of the military service, participated.

Along with the military people who contributed to this creative effort, country music star Toby Keith introduced the video, reinforcing his long-term support for military and their families stationed around the world.

Some of the servicemembers involved in this holiday greeting were located in the most remote regions in the world. For example, Air Force Capt. Graydon Muller of 6th Special Operations Squadron and Air Force Capt. Rob Marshall of the 8th Special Operations Squadron departed Nov. 24 to climb Vinson Massif, the highest mountain in Antarctica. Muller and Massif took time away from their climb to speak a few lines for the video.

Other servicemembers from Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Pakistan and throughout the United States participated in making the video. In fact, people on six out of the world's seven continents took part. The video was produced by Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.

'Twas a Night in December

'Twas a night in December and all over the world,
At bases and stations where our flag flies unfurled,
The Holiday season had long since commenced,
And spread its spirit of cheer through the Department of Defense.

Combat boots sat at ease by the fence line with care,
In hopes that a return date soon would be there.

At home, loved ones slept sound in their beds,
With visions of troops coming home in their heads.
As Moms perform night patrols, and Dads conduct checks,
A long winter's nap is the last thing they expect.
When out on the tarmac arose such a clatter,
Soldiers and sailors sprang up to see what was the matter.

Away to the deck, they hustled, they dashed,
Some ran through a passageway, one opened a hatch.

In Antarctica, moonlight shimmered on the snow,
A sliver of light shown on the objects below.
And what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But letters and packages bundled with care.
Yet it wasn't just there that we saw these things land,
We received them as well, here in Afghanistan!
They were packaged so well that they could withstand,
The harsh desert winds full of Iraqi sand.
Onto Nicaragua with volcanoes and lakes,
Padded so carefully that nothing would break
Addressed from our family and friends we hold dear,
With Holiday greetings and a "Wish You Were Here!"
We lined up and claimed them, with smiles ear-to-ear,
Every person overcome with Holiday cheer.

Your support and your thoughts are the best possible gift,
We send you our thanks for giving our spirits such a lift.
Thanks from the National Guard
Thanks from the Army,
Thanks from the Navy,
Thanks from the Marines,
Thanks from the Air Force,
Thanks from the Coast Guard,
We want you to know how much this gift means.
In our eyes you're super, and we mean A-OK.

We will do our duty and keep defending our freedom,
And wish you and yours the very best this Holiday season!

You can watch the video here.

Filed under: Holidays,

December 10, 2010 at 9:58am

Gates gives 4 soldiers a holiday lift home

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT - It's a long flight home from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

But four soldiers traveling to see family for the holidays got an upgrade, courtesy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Normally, their leave would have started with a wait at the airport for the next available seat on a military plane to Kuwait, followed by a grueling commercial flight back to the U.S.

On Thursday, however, the four soldiers got to skip the long lines and security pat-downs, and instead boarded Gates' expansive E-4B - a militarized version of the Boeing 747, known as the Doomsday Plane.

And their layover wasn't at an airport hotel - it was at the luxurious Emirates Palace that stretches for more than a kilometer along the Persian Gulf coast in Abu Dhabi, where Gates stopped to meet Thursday night with the crown prince.

"This way they'll get a more comfortable, hopefully more enjoyable and certainly faster trip home," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, as Gates plane' coasted over Eastern Europe. The rugged aircraft was designed to be an airborne operations center for the Pentagon chief in the event of a national emergency.

Morrell said Gates has long wanted to give some troops a ride home for leave or at the end of their tour. Before Gates left the U.S., staff told commanders in Afghanistan that there were a few empty seats on the plane and asked them to find some troops who were heading back to the U.S. within the secretary's schedule.

Two of the four are a married couple heading to Texas to spend the holidays with family members who are taking care of their three sons. Both have deployed four times to war, once to Kosovo, twice to Iraq and now to Afghanistan.

Another soldier has deployed twice to Afghanistan during his four years in the Army and was heading to Indiana. And the fourth has been in the Army for four years and is on his first deployment to Afghanistan.

December 6, 2010 at 3:43pm

Olympia WWII memorial to be rededicated Tuesday

Olympia - Retired Rear Admiral Herbert M. Bridge, USNR will deliver the keynote address when the Washington State World War II Memorial is re-dedicated on Tuesday, Dec. 7, on the state capitol campus in Olympia.

The public is invited to attend this event which will take place in a heated structure next to the memorial which is located between the north diagonal and 11th street on the main campus.

Simon Kogan, the Olympia artist who created the memorial in 1999, restored the memorial and recreated the ghost images on the five bronze blades, images which represent members of the armed forces as well as the civilians who participated in the conflict on the home front.

The 14-foot-high blades contain the names of the nearly 6,000 Washington residents killed in the war. The memorial's large granite stones are engraved with major battles fought by year.

The memorial is surrounded by nearly 3,000 granite tiles, which include engraved personal messages from families and friends of those who served during World War II. The tiles were installed last summer, replacing weathered original tiles, which were crushed and used as part of the base material for the new tiles. The summertime project also improved drainage around the memorial.

Parking is limited on the Capitol Campus! Please consider using off-site parking at the Olympia Farmers Market and the Free DASH Shuttle to the Capitol which runs every 15 minutes. Hourly parking is also available throughout downtown Olympia with access to the DASH shuttle on Capitol Way.

For additional information, please contact the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs at 360-725-2180.

Filed under: Ceremony, Holidays, Honors, Veterans,

November 10, 2010 at 5:13pm

Veterans honored through music, poetry and essays

Patriotism and heartfelt remembrances took place in every school in Clover Park School District last week as students and staff paid tribute to our nation's veterans.

Hillside Elementary School students sing several classic songs under the direction of Peter Giardina, fine arts and music teacher. Congressman Adam Smith briefly spoke to students and members of the American Legion explained the importance and significance of the U.S. flag.

Members of Clover Park High School's Air Force JROTC Drill Team and Color Guard performed at Lochburn Middle School's assembly. Retired Lt. Col. Gary Roberts, senior AFJROTC instructor from CPHS, was the keynote speaker and gave students a historical look at his military career and how he achieved his goals.

Oakbrook Elementary School students show off their handmade flags as they sing to their parents and guests. The Fighting 56th Army Band from Joint Base Lewis-McChord also performed at the assembly.

Veterans stand at attention at Tyee Park Elementary School as "Taps" was played by members of the 56th Army Big Band from JBLM. Students sang a variety of patriotic songs and heard from keynote speaker Retired Gen. Johnnie E. Wilson. This is Tyee Park's 22nd Veterans Day celebration under the direction of Tracey Lundquist, fine arts teacher.

Army Sgt. Galvan spoke to students at Idlewild Elementary School about the importance of Veterans Day. Students also sang songs and teacher Susan Morgan told a story in remembrance of her father, Col. Edward Chandler.

Filed under: Ceremony, Holidays, Veterans,

October 7, 2010 at 10:12am

Holiday mailing deadlines released

This from Air Force Times: For those mailing packages to friends and loved ones in the military overseas, Christmas comes early. And Hanukkah comes even earlier.

It depends on how you plan to send it, but if it's traveling the slowest way - parcel post - mail that package by Nov. 12 to get it there by Dec. 25, according to recommended holiday shipping dates provided by the Military Postal Service Agency.

Hanukkah begins Dec. 1 this year, so you'll need to send it 24 days earlier - by Oct. 19 - if it's going parcel post.

Read more here.

Filed under: Holidays, Familes, Iraq, Afghanistan,

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