The morning started like any other day. I got up at 0500 and was on my way to work by 0620. As I arrived at ECP (the camp gate), there were 3 SUV’s and a small bus full of soldiers. We all cleared the inspection and head into camp. It surprised me when I saw that these vehicles were headed to the JMMT yard. I stopped and checked in the guard for the yard and asked him what was going on. Operation Santa Clause was his answer. There were 3 Generals and their entourage. This was going to be interesting.
I pulled up and parked beside the SUV’s, got out and preceded to go on with my normal routine of getting ready to run my mission into Iraq. I loaded my gear into my truck and got the things from the office that we would need for the mission. I walked into the mail building to get that days bundle of Stars & Strips to hand out to the soldiers pulling guard duty at the gates we would pass through that day. The soldiers were opening a box that had Santa hats in it and putting them on. Then they all went to the dock and stared loading the mail onto the trucks. They had asked the head of the guys that normally load the mail to please hold off so they could do it. A lot of us saw it as a dog and pony show. The mail was going to be leaving late today because these guys wanted a photo opp. Several of us thought, “The soldiers don’t care who puts the mail in the trailers, just so long as they get their mail.” But I guess you have to give them a little credit, they didn’t have to come down there and do this. Maybe in a way, it did mean something to someone that all this brass was willing to fingerprint some mail for the troops. Morale is a big deal when you are in a combat zone ya know. So we all waited for them to get the mail sorted and loaded. I met one of the General’s and had a picture taken with him. When I introduced myself as one of the drivers, he shook my hand and thanked me and all the drivers for doing what we do. One of the Sergeants said that he would not go across the border without a weapon and thanked us for being strong and brave enough to do this job. For us, it is no big deal. We are not brave, it is our job!
But I have to say that this day was special. This was the last mail that would go out before Christmas day. We were helping in making Santa’s Christmas Eve run!