Stockings in Southwest Asia

By John Hanson, Senior Vice President, USO

Every year, the USO’s direct mail campaign includes an appeal that carries the message, “There are no stockings in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Well, of course, there probably ARE stockings there. I can report to you that there are inflatable Santa-in-a-Sleigh yard decorations there. Today’s troops do what American troops at war have always done. They do their best to make their situations as home like as possible.

But, they aren’t home.

These brave men and women are anywhere BUT home, working over every holiday to keep us safe and to secure a nation half way around the world. And, Americans send them things to let them know we honor that sacrifice. They’ll get cakes and candy and the kinds of things we put in stockings, even if the troops don’t have a stocking handy.

Several years ago, I was on a USO holiday tour hosted by the Sergeant Major of the Army. The tour lasted ten days or so, and we were going to arrive home on Christmas Eve. The tour was exhausting. We stopped at Balad, Iraq, and when we walked backstage during the sound check, we noticed that there were small stockings on the wall. Nurses at the military hospital there bought the stockings, wrote the performers’ names in glue and glitter and put a single candy cane in each one. I will never forget the looks on the faces of each person, nor will I forget the glee and wonder each expressed at the thought of someone taking the time to say, “Merry Christmas” in that way. Stockings have power.

4 thoughts on “Stockings in Southwest Asia

  1. Hey to all my battle buddies , thinking of each of you and praying for each of you as you serve in my place, and as you serve our great nation with pride. Each of you are so worth every effort, every package, letter and etc.
    Your what makes me truly proud ! I love each and every one of you as a sister and brother ! HOOAH !

  2. Fellow veteran. God bless all of you. When you mix the hot coco mix, creamer, and sugar with a little water. It makes a great frosting for the MRE cookies. Merry Christmas. Praying for all of you to come home safe to enjoy the New Year. ; )

  3. After training in California we had to go to the airport in San Diego and catch our flights home. While waiting for our connections we had the pleasure of a stay in a little shack for soldiers provided by the USO. It was such an impression I will never forget of the warm greetings and goodbyes. A cup of coffee and a few snacks. Great work they do for the soldiers.

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