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Ayden Dukes, six-month son of Gunnery Sgt. Darren Dukes, sits on Santa's lap at the Marine Wing Support Group-37 Family Holiday Day at Mills Park here Dec. 12. There was an ornament-making station, an inflatable bounce house, and food and drinks for families to enjoy.

Photo by Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

Christmas comes early for Marine families

16 Dec 2010 | Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

Santa Claus came to visit the families of Marine Wing Support Group 37 at Mills Park here Dec. 12 as part of MWSG-37's annual Family Holiday Day.

“It’s important to get all the families together, especially during the holidays,” said Erin Gaian, the family readiness officer for MWSG-37. “With deployments, training schedules - the Marine Corps way of life is not your typical cookie-cutter childhood. This is a good event for kids to be around other children and remind them that this is their family too. For the Marines it’s a good way for them to see another side of each other and bond.”

Santa arrived in a fire truck to deliver presents to the children, and ask them what they wanted for Christmas. There was an ornament-making station, an inflatable bounce house, and food and drinks for families to enjoy as well. The event also featured a blow up sports center where the families tossed footballs, kicked soccer balls, threw basketballs and Frisbees, and hit baseballs.

“It was a lot of fun, especially when Santa drove up in a fire truck,” explained Orletta Nyguyen, a military wife. “It showed that everyone was working to make Christmas a great time for the families.”

Marines and their families also played volleyball and threw horseshoes during the event.

This was a good opportunity to see everyone out of uniform, and interact with families without a business-like-attitude, said Lt. Col. Chris Haase, the executive officer of MWSG-37. The Marines got to enjoy each other's company in a relaxed environment.

“It's the little traditions that keep us feeling grounded,” said Nyguyen. “My family lives out in town and we don't have this kind of community among our neighbors. These kinds of events make our families feel like we're not alone.”

Marine families do not always have normal holidays, but the Marines of MWSG-37 gave their families a chance to celebrate together and enjoy the holiday season.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing