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Troops brighten Iraqi orphans' holiday
MILI santa and kids
Children reach out to Santa, played by Pfc. Brent Read, HHC, 2nd HBCT, 3rd ID, to see what gifts he has to offer on Christmas Eve. - photo by Photo by Spc. Crystal Witherspoon
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq — Smiling children fill a room almost to capacity, their faces shining and full of excitement.
Col. Charles E. Sexton, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, asks, “Have you all been good boys and girls or bad boys and girls?”
“Good!” scream the children.
The commander smiles, turns to an interpreter and asks him to tell the children, in Arabic, that they have a surprise waiting in the next room. The children are overjoyed as they hear “ho, ho, ho,” bellowing from the next room.
The 2nd HBCT soldiers made Christmas special for young orphans in Mosul and Kermles, Iraq, on Christmas Eve when Pfc. Brent Read, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, dressed as Santa, as he and other Spartan Soldiers passed out toys, candy, backpacks, and shoes to the children.
Zuhayr Muhsin, mayor of Mosul, provided his office for the Spartans to pass out the gifts. The mayor thanked the soldiers and gave a plaque to the commander for their efforts.
As Santa and his soldier helpers finished passing out gifts, night began to fall. They then returned to their mine-resistant, ambush protected vehicles and traveled to a church in Kermles and passed out gifts to the orphaned children there.
Read said dressing up as Santa was a lot of fun and an experience he would never forget.
“Today was really exciting. I know it was very special for them to see Santa because when you’re young, you love Santa. He lets you know that Christmas is truly here,” the private said. “The kids were so excited. A bunch of them sat on my lap and gave me kisses on the cheek.”
Sgt. Matthew Thorton, HHC, 2HBCT, said he felt good about handing out gifts to the orphans. Other than being home, he said he couldn’t think of a better place to be.
“I couldn’t be home with my kids, but just being there seeing those kids’ happy faces made me feel good. These kids don’t have a whole lot, so to be able to help them out was really important to us,” Thorton said. “This also gave us an opportunity to build an even better relationship with the people here, show them we really care.”

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