American Forces Press Service
Dec. 20, 2007 - Christmas came early to several camps in Kuwait, where servicemembers kicked off the season Dec. 1 with a tree-lighting ceremony and caroling at Camp Buehring, thanks to a long-time supporter from back home. Bank of America Military Segment sponsored the celebration, sending small gifts and 1,000 Christmas stockings to troops stationed at the camp.
Bank of America is a corporate supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
"Having been deployed myself on numerous occasions while in the Navy, I know what it means to be away from family during the holidays," said Pat Rainey, a Bank of America Military Segment executive. "It is our hope that Bank of America's contribution to the troops in Kuwait will help make their time away from home a little brighter."
That is exactly what happened when the surprise was sprung on the unsuspecting troops, said Jo Amato, with the Officers' Spouse Club of Kuwait. Amato's husband, Army Lt. Col. Edward J. Amato, is commander of Base Support Battalion North Kuwait.
"The troops were pleasantly surprised to have a break from the high operational tempo and to have the holiday spirit alive," Amato said, adding praise for those who made the celebration possible. "Bank of America did not merely say they support their troops; they went out and 'walked the walk.'
"I hope that other companies follow Bank of America's example," she added.
The celebration wasn't the end of the surprises for the troops, however, as the weather suddenly turned very odd for Kuwait. Soon the ground was covered in a fine white powder that looked like the real stuff.
"While we were able to forecast the snow, Ivory soap was required!" Amato said.
The Christmas tree lit during a special ceremony added to the feeling that it was truly the holiday season. That was even truer when it was decorated with ornaments sent by many U.S. state governors.
Support like Bank of America showed with its sponsorship of these holiday festivities is a huge morale boost, Amato said.
"For tens of thousands of troops transiting Kuwait during the holidays, this will be their only opportunity for holiday spirit in 2007," she said. "The command wants to make sure the season is special for the troops at (Base Support Battalion) North Kuwait."
Camp Buehring, the Army's permanent aviation base camp in Kuwait, is home to tens of thousands of troops and is located 15 miles from the Iraq border.
For the rest of December, the Soldier Support Group committee will coordinate other festivities including musical entertainment, a Christmas festival and dance, Christmas parties for transient troops, and a dance on New Year's Eve, bank officials said.