DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – Every day of the year troops deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan from DFW International Airport, and Christmas Day is no exception.
This Christmas, more than 100 troops left their families to serve their country.
Troops headed to Iraq and Afghanistan were caught off guard by a warm sendoff from volunteers.
“I didn’t expect any of it. I expected to come here, sit around and wait for my flight,” said Specialist brice Wood.
Wood will be joining his brother in Iraq. His brother is serving while his wife is pregnant with their first child. Tom Wood and Donna Owen say their other son didn’t have much of a Christmas.
“We heard from him today – he was a little upset his platoon had to go out and look for roadside bombs today – didn’t get to celebrate Christmas,” said Owen.
But 125 soldiers did get to celebrate Christmas, even though many didn’t have their friends and family nearby. The USO and Raytheon provided a catered meal for the troops. Each service member also received a goody bag full of toiletries, snacks, an iPod and a Flip camera.
“It feels wonderful to be appreciated,” said Sgt. Kenvee Parker, who is leaving behind her husband and three daughters. “I was upset at first, I’m not going to lie… matter of fact, I cried when I got on the plane,” she said.
North Texans making time for their troops meant the world to these men and women.
“I’ll tell anyone that comes through Dallas, Fort Worth, Texas, that they love the soldiers – they love the soldiers here.”
Volunteers felt every minute with these soldiers was worth it.
“If we help them lift their spirits just a little bit – then we are blessed for that opportunity and privilege,” said Rhenda White-Brunner, DFW’s USO director.
As the Wood family took photos with an inflatable Trooper Claus, Specialist Wood’s parents could not deny the pain of letting go of another son on Christmas.
“Words can’t express.. Having them both there at the same time,” said Tom Wood tearfully.
Local soldiers took a little extra time to be near their loved ones and little ones… Soldiers say what keeps them sane in these times is knowing someone will be waiting for them to come home.
The USO says close to 190,000 soldiers travel through DFW Airport for Iraq or Afghanistan every year because it is one of two rest and recuperation hubs in the country.
If you would like daily arrival and departure information, please call (972) 574-0392.