The view from the other side
Staff Sgt. Donald Ommodt, currently deployed with the 849 MAC, is a Logistics NCO. While in Iraq at Victory Base Complex, he maintains property accountability and ensures that the troops on the ground have the equipment and supplies they need to ...
Staff Sgt. Donald Ommodt, currently deployed with the 849 MAC, is a Logistics NCO. While in Iraq at Victory Base Complex, he maintains property accountability and ensures that the troops on the ground have the equipment and supplies they need to be successful.
In an e-mail interview, Ommodt shared some of his thoughts about being in Iraq this Christ-mas.
Q: How are you and the troops getting ready to celebrate the holiday?
A: For the holiday season, there are some decorations up in our work areas and the chow hall staff have decorated their facility with many Christmas decorations. ... We take it day by day and operations are always being conducted, but we take notice of holidays and do what we can. We try to ensure everyone is in good spirits and watch out for one another and are making the most of our deployment.
There are religious services that are available, the chaplains in our area are very active in promoting religious services and attendance. ... The soldiers are getting a lot of mail in the last few weeks. We do receive a lot of support from our families and other organizations from Min-nesota that are always sending packages to soldiers. It is very much appreciated, and it brings a smile to everyone's face when you get a package in the mail, it is definitely a morale booster.
Q: What is the range of emotions you see among your colleagues -- knowing they won't be home for the holidays?
A: For the most part, spirits are pretty good here. Everyone has different situations that they left behind at home and everyone reacts in their own way. We take care of one another over here and help each other out when someone needs it. We have been around each other for quite a while now, and know how a person normally acts and we react to changes and keep a close eye on one another.
Q: What type of feelings are you experiencing as Christmas approaches?
A: As the holidays approach fast, it is hard to believe that it is here upon us. It is hard being away from my wife, Chasity, and my children: Samantha, Bradyn, Jaryn, Isabella and Gabriella.
... It will be the first holiday season that I am away. I know my situation and feelings here in Iraq, but ... The biggest thing I worry about is my family and me not being there to help cele-brate the holidays as a family. I know it isn't going to be easy on any of them. I also know that they support me on this mission and that they say they understand why I am here doing what I do.
Q: What day will be the toughest -- Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
A: I think it will be a little tougher on Christmas Eve, because that is the night that the kids get all full of anticipation and that is when the family celebrations start happening for Christ-mas.
Q: What will you miss most being away from home for Christmas?
A: Just not being with my family to celebrate Christmas is going to be tough. You feel guilty for not being able to be there with them to enjoy the Christmas traditions as a complete family. Just the overall family togetherness will be tough not to be around during the holidays.
Q: Besides family, what other things do you miss ... any special foods, music, traditions?
A: There are lots of things that I will miss: From decorating the Christmas tree and our home for Christmas to the stressful shopping that goes into the preparation of the holidays. I'll miss out on all the home cooking, lefse especially, and all the sweet treats that go with the holidays. I know as a family we usually watch the Chevy Chase "Christmas Vacation" movie many times, and try to watch all the family movies about Christmas that you sit around as a family and watch together.
Q: What are your concerns for your family back home this holiday?
A: I know for my wife, Chasity, it is just all the stress that she already has and then you put all the Christmas activities and duties on one person, I know that will be a challenging task. Just not being there, and the emotions and feelings that my children have because I am not there is always on my mind, but I know they are understanding of the situation and will do the best they can and help out Mom as much as they can.
Q: What messages would you like to deliver to our community at this time?
A: The community has shown a lot of support to myself and other deployed families from the community. ... They are always coming up with new programs that show us support. I know a lot of organizations and fellow people of the community have extended their hands and are help-ing out as they can. The support is very appreciated and I thank the community very much.
Q: Any other thoughts you'd like to share?
A: I'd just like to say to the West Central Tribune, ... Thank you for noticing and making aware to the local community that there are families in the local area that are having a holiday that is being affected by a deployment overseas. I know a lot of people are aware of deploy-ments, but until it affects your family or your local community, it is tough to understand the unique stress and effects that it has on families from the area.
From Iraq, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.