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Deployed soldiers to celebrate holidays
soldiers xmas
U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Ike, commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, and Sgt. Maj. Raul Aguilar Jr, senior enlisted advisor for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 3rd ID, stand with dignitaries as they sing during the “Star of Kindness” ceremony at the market square in the Bolesławiec, Poland. Photo by Sgt. Moses Howard

FORT STEWART – Thousands of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers will be enjoying a white Christmas – though they will be several thousand miles from home.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Norrie, commanding general of the 3rd ID, said plans are in motion for the more than 4,000 soldiers deployed across eastern Europe to celebrate the holidays.

“We are very invested in it. It’s so important, even more important when you are deployed,” he said.

The division’s 2nd Brigade, Division Artillery, division headquarters and sustainment brigade are in Europe as part of a nine-month rotation to deter further Russian aggression in the region. There is a division-level effort called “Operation Holidays,” Maj. Gen. Norrie said, with a planned range of activities that include connections with the local communities. There also will be shout-outs from celebrities and notable people for the soldiers, the general said, and callouts with NORAD on Santa Claus’ track.

“We’ve got good meals planned and good physical training planned,” Maj. Gen. Norrie added.

The division marked its 106th birthday in November, with a Marne birthday workout in the mud and the snow, Maj. Gen. Norrie said.

“Your dogfaced soldiers are A-OK,” he declared. “They are training hard and doing great things and proud to do it. They are proud to wear this patch on their shoulder.”

Marne Division units are training alongside host nation and other NATO partners and allies, Maj. Gen. Norrie pointed out.

“We are busy,” he said. “We are training every single day, to build and strengthen our relationships with NATO partners and allies. We don’t have to serve – we get to serve. It is the most powerful and incredibly humbling thing to be a part of.”

Though Maj. Gen. Norrie is a graduate of Bucknell University, he was thrilled with the Army football team’s homage to the 3rd Infantry Division and the 20th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad with its uniforms for the Army-Navy game. Players’ helmets bore the Rocky the Bulldog mascot and their uniforms were adorned with the 3rd ID’s Marne patch.

The back of the helmets had Rock of the Marne, the division’s nickname from its stand along the Marne River to stem a German offensive in 1918. And the Army football team secured its 17-11 win over its archrival with a goal-line stand in the final seconds.

“That store nearly sold out of all the 3rd Infantry Division merchandise,” Maj. Gen. Norrie beamed. “We are so proud of the Army football team and the United States Military Academy.”

soldiers xmas
Renata Bogdanowicz, a local elected official in the Medininkai region of Lithuania, and soldiers with 2/69 Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, deliver gifts to local villagers Dec. 16. Photo by Sgt. Alex Soliday.
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