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Diana Jones, of Forth Worth, Texas, a laundry supervisor at Camp Lemonier Anti-Terrorism Base, serves up eggnog to Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

Diana Jones, of Forth Worth, Texas, a laundry supervisor at Camp Lemonier Anti-Terrorism Base, serves up eggnog to Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. (Monte Morin / S&S)

Diana Jones, of Forth Worth, Texas, a laundry supervisor at Camp Lemonier Anti-Terrorism Base, serves up eggnog to Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

Diana Jones, of Forth Worth, Texas, a laundry supervisor at Camp Lemonier Anti-Terrorism Base, serves up eggnog to Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. (Monte Morin / S&S)

Diana Jones serves grape juice "wine" to Army Sgt. Robert Chase, of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti.

Diana Jones serves grape juice "wine" to Army Sgt. Robert Chase, of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment during Christmas dinner Monday in Djibouti. (Monte Morin / S&S)

Marines with the 5th Provisional Security Company at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, enjoy a candlelit Christmas dinner before going out to guard the wire of the Horn of Africa anti-terrorism base Monday. Seated clockwise, from left, are Lance Cpl. Douglas Spencer, 20; Cpl. Willie Lucero, 27; Lance Cpl. Leonard Chavez, 24; and Lance Cpl. Louis Duran, 29. All four Marine Reservists are from Amarillo, Texas.

Marines with the 5th Provisional Security Company at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, enjoy a candlelit Christmas dinner before going out to guard the wire of the Horn of Africa anti-terrorism base Monday. Seated clockwise, from left, are Lance Cpl. Douglas Spencer, 20; Cpl. Willie Lucero, 27; Lance Cpl. Leonard Chavez, 24; and Lance Cpl. Louis Duran, 29. All four Marine Reservists are from Amarillo, Texas. (Monte Morin / S&S)

Lance Cpl. Justin Franklin, 21, of Greenville, Miss., raises the gate arm for traffic at the main checkpoint of Camp Lemonier on Christmas Day.

Lance Cpl. Justin Franklin, 21, of Greenville, Miss., raises the gate arm for traffic at the main checkpoint of Camp Lemonier on Christmas Day. (Monte Morin / S&S)

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti — There were Christmas trees, Santa and all the trimmings of a lavish Christmas dinner Monday at Camp Lemonier’s Bob Hope Dining Facility, but for Marines guarding the wire of this small anti-terrorism base in sultry East Africa, the holiday passed like any other day.

While most of the roughly 1,500 military personnel who comprise the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa spent Christmas Day in their civvies enjoying a relaxing holiday, Marine Reservists with the 5th Provisional Security Company were decked out in full battle rattle, searching vehicles and scanning the perimeter for trouble.

"It’s just another day," said Lance Cpl. Charles Powers, 20, of Natchez, Miss. "Put on your flak and Kevlar and watch the bushes."

Powers, one of a number of Marine Reservists from Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida who make up the unit, said he wasn’t too bothered by the situation though.

"Honestly, if I had to spend Christmas anyplace else but home, I couldn’t spend it with any better group of guys," he said of his fellow Marines.

Camp Lemonier, a former French Foreign Legion barracks on the Red Sea, is the headquarters for the U.S. military’s war on terrorism here, and stages numerous humanitarian and military-to-military training missions throughout one of the continent’s most unstable and poverty-stricken regions. Each branch of the military performs a different function here and the Marines are responsible for guarding the base and staffing its checkpoints.

Monday’s main event here was the Christmas meal, which stretched more than eight hours. Dining facility workers dressed as angels; Santa and elves served up glasses of eggnog and grape juice "wine," while soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen dined on roast beef, crab legs, sweet potatoes, baked ham, ice cream sundaes and chocolates.

While security company members spent the day guarding the wire or manning the unit’s quick reaction force, they were granted "front-of-line" privileges at the dining facility. Marines either sat at tables or packed their Christmas dinner in a foam plastic "to go" container.

"It’s actually pretty good that they got to eat chow, period," said Sgt. Bruce Davis, 26, of Brookhaven, Miss. "When they don’t get chow, they get real grumpy. I mean really grumpy, as in disgruntled."

Davis, who also has served in Iraq, was acting as the sergeant of the guards on Monday. He spent part of the day visiting his Marines at their various guard towers and checkpoints.

At the main checkpoint, Lance Cpl. Justin Franklin, 21, of Greenville, Miss., spent most of the day raising and lowering the red-and-white striped gate arm as vehicles rolled in and out of the camp. He, for one, said he was very glad to be able to catch some of the Christmas spread before heading to work.

"That made my day," Franklin said. "When I saw those beautiful women dressed up in Santa suits serving food and drinks, that made me feel a lot better."


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