Flying a crewed aircraft for nine hours leads to many memorable conversations, and recently on a long mission our crew discussed Christmas traditions. I expected stories of big meals, flag football, and opening presents on Christmas morning; to be fair there were a few stories like that, but what struck me were the majority of the stories from the crew.
For many sailors, many from the age of eighteen and older, Christmas Day is spent in a small barracks room, on a ship underway, or stuck in an office or bridgewing standing a watch. Many single sailors volunteer to take the Christmas Day watch for their married shipmates if at home, but many are simply voluntold based on their junior status. One Sailor recounted that for the past twelve years, since he joined the Navy, he had spent every Christmas on watch save for one. On that particular Christmas he and his roommate sat in the barracks, drank a bottle of whiskey, and smoked a cigar.
This Christmas, please remember those guys, say a prayer for them over dinner or better yet…if you see a sailor or marine alone on Christmas invite them over for dinner. It makes a difference in a young kid’s life.