07 July 2008

U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Celebrate Independence Day

U.S. servicemembers assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan celebrated America's 232nd Independence Day in the traditional way, but in a non-traditional setting.

Serving thousands of miles away from home in a warzone, servicemembers took time off to recharge and partake in the things that make the Fourth of July a special holiday.

Camp Eggers' Morale, Welfare and Recreation organized the event, providing a taste of home for all soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and U.S. civilians here.

CSTC-A MWR officer, Air Force Maj. Regina Rockel praised all volunteers who assisted in planning and the setup.

"I'm so pleased it turned out well. The garrison commander and all the NCO's (noncommissioned officers) did an outstanding job in making this a fun time for everyone on Camp Eggers."

Kicking off the day's events were opening remarks and a cake-cutting ceremony led by Army Maj. Gen. Robert Cone, CSTC-A commanding general.

"Today, we see our flag displayed in Blackhawks and Humvees, on aircraft carriers and fighter jets, in tactical operations centers and combat outposts. We wear the flag on our uniforms and bear it in our hearts. We salute it, we serve under it, and we fight for it," Cone said.

During the celebration, servicemembers relaxed and enjoyed a myriad of traditional Fourth of July events including a basketball tournament, horse shoes, pie-eating contest and barbeque.

Adding to the festive atmosphere was Camp Eggers' own Freedom Band. The Freedom Band, made up of servicemembers from Camp Eggers, played patriotic tunes throughout the day.

"We formed just for this occasion," said the Freedom Band's leader and guitarist, Air Force Master Sgt. Donnell Woodard of Chicago, Ill. "This is how we celebrate when we're home too. Good music, family and friends. We have that here as well."

For most servicemembers, the celebration was a reminder of home, with many activities being identical to those held stateside. Many servicemembers reflected on what their families were doing to celebrate America's independence.

"At home we would be going to the beach and having a big cookout," said Navy Lt. Kevin Davis, a Jacksonville, Fla., native. "We make the entire day one to remember."

By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn D. Graham
American Forces Press Service

Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn D. Graham, USN, is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan.

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