| Christmas Eve Swim-a-thon
Most Americans might be found “baking cookies for Santa”, finish wrapping presents and tiding up the house for holiday parties and family ‘get togethers’ on Christmas Eve. For military members deployed overseas usually aren’t afforded the leisure of family and friends during the holidays, but find other ways to fend off any ‘holiday blues.’
Soldiers and other service members deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq participated in a multitude of events on Christmas Eve, including a “Rudolph’s 5k Swim-a-Thon.”
“The 100 lap swim is a challenge and it went on all day,” said Command Sgt. Major Jeffery Lindberg of Headquarters, 834th Aviation Support Battalion, Task Force 34. “Some people are doing it for competition and some people are doing it just to finish.”
The event had four different heats at various times throughout the day to allow participants who may work nights or swings shift to have the opportunity to participate. It gave them the chance to do something a little different on Christmas Eve.
“When are in Iraq, everyday seems like the same day,” said Sgt. Stephanie Plahn, 834th Aviation Support Battalion. “It doesn’t really matter to me that it is near Christmas, the fact that we are doing it on Christmas Eve is just a bonus.”
Soldiers and military members are offered a wide variety of morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) events to keep them busy, active and engaged during off-duty hours.
“This shows that people are out there doing different events; they are willing to go out there and show some different athletics and not becoming dining hall potatoes,” said Command Sgt. Major Lindberg, a native a Ramsey, Minn.
The Rudolph 5k involved participants of all different branches of the military, different genders and different skill levels.
“I have never really swam before,” said Sgt. Plahn, a native of Jasper, Minnesota. “I wanted a challenge and this looked really hard, I have been training for about a month.”
“It feels good once it is done,” said Command Sgt. Major Lindberg.
The military members deployed with Task Force 34 may not have cookies and milk left on the fireplace for Santa, but find other fun and different ways to keep beat the blues this holiday season.
Written by SGT Lynette Hoke, Task Force 34 Public Affairs Journalist
24 Dec., 2008