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Christmas decorations sprouted up at bases all over Afghanistan in December. At an air passenger terminal at Forward Operating Base Fenty, in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, servicemembers shaped a Christmas tree out of holiday cards from the States, seen in this photo from Dec. 15, 2013.
Christmas decorations sprouted up at bases all over Afghanistan in December. At an air passenger terminal at Forward Operating Base Fenty, in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, servicemembers shaped a Christmas tree out of holiday cards from the States, seen in this photo from Dec. 15, 2013. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Christmas decorations sprouted up at bases all over Afghanistan in December. At an air passenger terminal at Forward Operating Base Fenty, in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, servicemembers shaped a Christmas tree out of holiday cards from the States, seen in this photo from Dec. 15, 2013.
Christmas decorations sprouted up at bases all over Afghanistan in December. At an air passenger terminal at Forward Operating Base Fenty, in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, servicemembers shaped a Christmas tree out of holiday cards from the States, seen in this photo from Dec. 15, 2013. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. 1st Class Tamike Tolbert sings Christmas hymns during a Christmas Eve service in which the story of Christ's birth was retold at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan.
Sgt. 1st Class Tamike Tolbert sings Christmas hymns during a Christmas Eve service in which the story of Christ's birth was retold at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Maj. Ned Bartlebaugh, an Army chaplain, delivers a brief closing sermon at a Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan.
Maj. Ned Bartlebaugh, an Army chaplain, delivers a brief closing sermon at a Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Servicemembers sing Silent Night during a candle-lit Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan.
Servicemembers sing Silent Night during a candle-lit Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Servicemembers sing Silent Night during a candle-lit Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan.
Servicemembers sing Silent Night during a candle-lit Christmas Eve service at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
After returning to Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan with a box of Christmas cheer from Bagram, Sgt. 1st Class E. L. Craig hung Santa hats over the public affairs office desks with care on Dec. 15, 2013.
After returning to Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan with a box of Christmas cheer from Bagram, Sgt. 1st Class E. L. Craig hung Santa hats over the public affairs office desks with care on Dec. 15, 2013. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Erasmo Rivera, a civilian project engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prepared for the holidays on Dec. 12, 2013, with a gift from a fellow native of Puerto Rico, who surprised him with traditional Puerto Rico caroling instruments: a guirro, maracas and tambourines. He said they would likely serenade his office.
Erasmo Rivera, a civilian project engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prepared for the holidays on Dec. 12, 2013, with a gift from a fellow native of Puerto Rico, who surprised him with traditional Puerto Rico caroling instruments: a guirro, maracas and tambourines. He said they would likely serenade his office. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Marrero spent Christmas Eve with his unit doing inventory at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province. Despite the holiday, work continued as usual at military bases throughout the country.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Marrero spent Christmas Eve with his unit doing inventory at Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province. Despite the holiday, work continued as usual at military bases throughout the country. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Daryll Packer, a military contractor and certified basketball referee, measures the court for a Christmas Day five-on-five game at Forward Operating Base Gamber in Afghanistan. The court is next to the FOB's helicopter landing zone, amid the rugged mountains that cover most of the eastern part of the country.
Daryll Packer, a military contractor and certified basketball referee, measures the court for a Christmas Day five-on-five game at Forward Operating Base Gamber in Afghanistan. The court is next to the FOB's helicopter landing zone, amid the rugged mountains that cover most of the eastern part of the country. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
On Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province, two units received 10th Mountain Division combat patches on Christmas Eve. Here, soldiers hold the patches while at parade rest before a patch ceremony.
On Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province, two units received 10th Mountain Division combat patches on Christmas Eve. Here, soldiers hold the patches while at parade rest before a patch ceremony. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)
Sgt. Donavin Smith, left, and Spc. Erik McEowen clean the turret of a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle on Christmas Eve. While many soldiers get a break on Christmas Day, work on Dec. 24 continued pretty much as usual on Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province.
Sgt. Donavin Smith, left, and Spc. Erik McEowen clean the turret of a mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle on Christmas Eve. While many soldiers get a break on Christmas Day, work on Dec. 24 continued pretty much as usual on Forward Operating Base Gamberi in Afghanistan's Laghman province. (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GAMBERI — On Christmas morning, Spc. Clarecea Smith’s three children will be tearing open presents with family by their side, including Smith’s husband, her parents and her little ones’ aunts and uncles. She said she can’t wait to see the look on her 5-year-old son’s face when he gets his brand new four-wheeler.

Of course, that will have to be over Skype, since she’s on this small forward operating base in Afghanistan serving with the 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery. By the time her family’s Christmas Day starts in South Carolina, it’ll be about 8 p.m. here, and Smith’s Christmas will almost be over.

Like many deployed soldiers, she’ll spend Christmas Eve at work. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., she’ll be acting as the noncommissioned officer in charge of flight operations.

But that won’t stop her from celebrating. Smith said she and the one other soldier working the flight terminal night shift will settle in and watch a few Christmas movies between flights.

She’s not the only one planning a Christmas movie binge for the holiday away from home. Staff Sgt. John McGuire said he’s planning a “Lethal Weapon” marathon with his tent-mates.

Spc. Chuck Sexton, another 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery, member who fuels vehicles at Gamberi, was more vague about his Christmas plans. He arrived at the FOB three weeks ago, and Christmas Day will be his first day off since.

It’s Sexton’s first deployment. Normally, he said, he loves the feel of the holiday season, but “it’s just another day out here.”

It’s not entirely without benefits though. In addition to relaxing on Christmas Day, Sexton said, he’s particularly pleased with one item from care packages the unit has received: mouthwash.

“I was excited about that, because the PX doesn’t sell mouthwash,” he added.

Sgt. Nasiyah Wilson is no stranger to holidays away from home. This year is her third time spending Christmas on a deployment. Her two sons will spend Christmas Day at her neighbor’s house in Fort Polk, La.

At least this time, she said, she had Internet access to make Christmas shopping easy. On her first deployment in Taji, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005, soldiers would wait in line for hours to do that.

While she hopes to catch up on future holidays at home, Wilson said she’s looking forward to spending this Christmas with her unit.

“(It’s) a little home away from home,” she said.

standifer.cid@stripes.com

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