Trees for Troops helps give military families a happy holiday - KOTA Territory News

Trees for Troops helps give military families a happy holiday

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Unloading a Fed-Ex truck filled with Christmas trees donated to military families.  Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown Unloading a Fed-Ex truck filled with Christmas trees donated to military families. Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown
Airmen line up donated Christmas trees before they are distributed to military families.  Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown. Airmen line up donated Christmas trees before they are distributed to military families. Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown.
Donations in the Trees for Troop program include individual messages from the farmers.  Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown Donations in the Trees for Troop program include individual messages from the farmers. Photo by Jack Siebold, MyTown

by Jack Siebold, MyTown editor

The trees ran the gamut from tall and full to, well, a couple of Charlie Brown Christmas trees.  But the airmen at Ellsworth Air Force Base were thankful for all of them.

 "It's pretty awesome.  It feels very, very special," 2nd Lt. Jeffrey Mellgren, 28th Civil Engineering Squadron, said.  "I'm brand new to the Air Force so it just makes me feel appreciated."

Friday morning, a local Fed-Ex driver pull onto the base with two trailers full of Christmas trees donated by growers from Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.  The trees are free for base airmen and their families, families of deployed National Guard soldiers and Douglas High School Junior ROTC cadets.

Since 2005, growers have helped families of deployed military people have a merry Christmas, giving away 85,000 trees in the Trees for Troops program.  Counting the 235 delivered to Ellsworth Friday, the growers hope to increase their seven-year total to 100,000 trees.  It is their way to say "thanks" to America's defenders.

"You can look at the trees and see the special little notes from the Christmas tree farmers, thanking or airmen for their service.  It's just an amazing feeling that they took that time to write a note," Carrie Brewer, base marketing director, said.

This is the fifth year that Ellsworth has participated in the Trees for Troops program.  "It is an absolute wonderful program," Brewer said.  "It brings our airmen and the families out to find that perfect Christmas tree and make the holidays just a little bit more, extra special."

This holiday is definitely special for Mellgren.  Besides being "new" to the Air Force, he's recently married and his wife is expecting their first child.  This is their first Christmas as a family; and he's picking what he believes is the perfect tree.  "I like the short needles and a little bit taller," Mellgren said.

"It definitely is a neat feeling to be able to pick that tree out here at Ellsworth," Brewer added.

Not all Ellsworth airmen will be with their families this year, More than 580 Ellsworth airmen, including men and women of the 28th Munitions Squadron, are currently deployed around the world.  Also, Ellsworth's B-1 bomber crews continue to provide around-the-clock support for ground forces in Southwest Asia.

 

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