An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | Dec. 30, 2020

Deployed 28th ECAB gets through holidays together

By Capt. Travis Mueller 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade

KUWAIT – Soldiers with the 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade leaned on each other and used their creativity to get through the holiday season half a world away from their families and loved ones.

They are deployed to the Middle East, supporting the fight against Daesh and maintaining a U.S. military posture in southwest Asia. The 28th ECAB commander, Col. Howard Lloyd, says the brigade’s mission in the Middle East perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the season.

“One of the things I find comforting is our whole mission, why we are here,” said Lloyd. “We joined our coalition partners in creating an environment conducive to everlasting peace and prosperity through the region.”

From the fixed-wing unit in Kuwait and the attack battalion in the north, to attached units from the Italian and Spanish armies, Lloyd says 28th ECAB Soldiers are exceeding all expectations in that mission. But he understands the separation from loved ones makes for an especially tough season for Soldiers and families. While some enjoyed the festive atmosphere, many missed being together with their loved ones and just tried to get through the holidays.

At home, the 28th ECAB rear detachment, family readiness group and Pennsylvania National Guard State Family Program Office put on a Park & Presents event in early December in various Pennsylvania cities. Families enjoyed a drive-through visit with Santa Claus and received a bag of toys.

Abroad, some units put on holiday parties and events for their Soldiers with a cookout and movies. Soldiers decorated their workspaces, in one case using a wooden pallet to form a Christmas tree. Dining facilities served a special meal on Christmas Day.

“We did have to work that day, but it didn’t stop us from having a good Christmas,” said Spc. Mariliz Serrano, a petroleum supply specialist serving in Iraq with Echo Company, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion. “We don’t normally have time to do anything outside of our shifts, so talking to our families, taking pictures and the holiday lunch really made us happy. At the same time, it was a little hard, simply because everyone at home was together and it just makes me sad knowing I am not there with my family enjoying the holidays. It made me miss them a lot.”

It was common for Soldiers to wake up around 2 a.m. local time to call their families during Christmas Eve parties back in the states. Many enjoyed video chatting later in the afternoon to watch their children open presents during the morning hours at home.

Sgt. Caitlin Reinard, a medic serving in Syria with Charlie Company, 2-104th GSAB, appreciated the camaraderie and spending Christmas with her fellow Soldiers, despite some hardship.

“We watched Christmas movies, played corn hole and rugby. 1st Lt. [Xiomara] Espinosa made us paper stockings and put in morale patches that reminded her of us individually,” she said. “... Also since the mail stopped, we didn’t get our Christmas packages from home, so that bummed us all out. But at the end of the day, we had each other.”

Lloyd acknowledged the mail delays but appreciated the kindness of so many people and organizations.

“The care packages we are receiving from home from loved ones, churches and agencies around the United States are overwhelming,” said Lloyd.

The 28th ECAB deployed to the Middle East in the summer to conduct combat operations and provide military support to civilian authorities. Members are to return home in late spring of 2021.



Related Articles
Task Force Phoenix Command Sgt. Maj. Refugio Rosas and Commander Col. Alan Gronewold await the arrival of visitors from Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve on the flight line before a transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 16, 2021.
Task Force Phoenix rises again in the Middle East
By Maj. Jason Sweeney, | May 19, 2021
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – After more than two years of preparation and training, the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade, as Task Force Phoenix, formally assumed its overseas mission.For the next nine months, the Task Force will...

U.S. Soldiers with the California National Guard's 40th Combat Aviation Brigade are taking over the aviation mission in the Middle East from the Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, taking part in Pennsylvania-California military cooperation that has been going on since the Civil War.
Pennsylvania-California military ties date back to Civil War
By Sgt. Zach Mateja, | May 11, 2021
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – As Soldiers of California’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade trade places with their counterparts of Pennsylvania’s 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade, troops will be taking part in a legacy of...

Task Force Phoenix UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from G Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), land at North Fort Hood, Texas, April 17, 2021, during a medevac training mission that was part of a culminating training exercise.
Task Force Phoenix completes pre-deployment exercise
By Maj. Jason Sweeney, | April 21, 2021
NORTH FORT HOOD, Texas – The Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix faced several worst-case scenarios during a 10-day culminating training exercise (CTE) in April. Indirect fire attacks, downed aircraft, improvised explosive device...