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Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76 Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson talks to soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment in Waza Khwa, Afghanistan, following a patrol through villages on Christmas Day.
Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76 Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson talks to soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment in Waza Khwa, Afghanistan, following a patrol through villages on Christmas Day. (Courtesy of Bradley Rhen, U.S. Army)
Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76 Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson talks to soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment in Waza Khwa, Afghanistan, following a patrol through villages on Christmas Day.
Commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76 Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson talks to soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment in Waza Khwa, Afghanistan, following a patrol through villages on Christmas Day. (Courtesy of Bradley Rhen, U.S. Army)
Sgt. Evan Ellis of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, holds up one of the T-shirts left in the company's barracks in Baghdad.
Sgt. Evan Ellis of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, holds up one of the T-shirts left in the company's barracks in Baghdad. (Jason Chudy / S&S)

Two soldiers at a remote fire base in Afghanistan recently got a gift from the big guy.

No, not Santa Claus.

For Christmas, Maj. Gen. Eric T. Olson, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, traveled from his headquarters in Bagram to Waza Khwa fire base, where he gave two soldiers the day off and pulled their guard duty shift.

“Waza Khwa is one of the more remote and less developed fire bases,” Olson stated in an Army news release. “I thought if there were any soldiers who could use a good break by switching with me for a day in Bagram, Waza Khwa was a good place to find them.”

Spc. Freddy Barahona, 22, and Spc. Michael Hanes, 21, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division (Light) as infantrymen in Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, briefly met and talked with Olson before departing for Bagram, the release stated.

“Burger King was our first stop when we arrived,” said Barahona, a native of Antioch, Calif. “It was great to be able to spend Christmas relaxing, watching some football, picking up a few items at the PX and being able to eat something that reminds us of home.”

Olson spent his holiday accompanying several Company C soldiers on a patrol to two nearby villages following Christmas dinner and a brief tour of the base, according to the release.

A ‘lousy’ T-shirt

When soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment returned from a nighttime patrol in Baghdad, they found a “souvenir” on the duty desk inside the company barracks.

Sitting in one corner were two bright-orange T-shirts bearing a familiar phrase back home … with an Operation Iraqi Freedom twist. In black lettering were the following words: “I surrendered to the Americans and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

The shirts brought chuckles from the group, which was scheduled for an early morning patrol less than six hours later.

Jason Chudy contributed to this report.

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