MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica - Christmas usually means gathering with family and friends and sharing a holiday meal.
It's no different for the 100 Airmen with the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing deployed to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.
The New York Airmen are supporting the National Science Foundation's Antarctic research program as part of the military's Operation Deep Freeze.
Christmas means bonding with their military and Antarctic family for good times and good food.
"The toughest part for Airmen is that it is difficult to make a phone call home on Christmas day, with no way to hook their phones up to anything," said Lt. Col. William L. Carraher, the wing's deployment commander.
Keeping morale high is always important, but especially around the holiday season.
"Morale is good; no one likes to be away from family but this is the best, worst place to spend Christmas," said Carraher.
Planning for Christmas began before the deployment with an elaborate dinner prepared by civilian cooks at McMurdo Station, where around 1000 people work, said Carraher.
Carraher said the main meal will include roast turkey, a fish dish and a vegetarian option along with many side dishes.
There will also be a large spread of cheese, crackers and fresh snack items, which will be distributed on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Games are also planned, as well as an ugly sweater contest, he said.
As in past years, someone will dress up as Santa, if a suit can be found, and hand out gifts that loved ones sent the Airmen, said Carraher.
There are several Christmas trees and just about everyone has strung Christmas lights in their room, said Carraher.
"Everyone comes together and the everyday problems drift away, and people just get to bond a little and get to know each other better," said Carraher.
The 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, flies the LC-130, the largest aircraft in the world which has skis and can land on snow or ice.
The wing supports the National Science Foundation's Antarctic program during North America's winter months and research in Greenland when it is summer in New York.