"Dear Airman" A deployer's Christmas surprise

Staff Sgt. David Ramirez, 554th RED HORSE Squadron services technician, hold’s his son’s Christmas card, Dec. 26, 2012, in front of a Christmas scene the Airmen have created while on deployment within the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The cards were sent to Sergeant Ramirez and fellow Airmen from students of the Andersen Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)

"Dear Airman" A deployer's Christmas surprise

by: Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing PAO
published: January 15, 2013
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 SOUTHWEST ASIA -- One of the pleasures that most deployed Airmen miss during the holiday season is the company of their beloved families and friends. For those who are parents, it's hard not having their children by their side.

Though most find comfort in technology in the form of live chat and emails, deployed Staff Sgt. David Ramirez, 554th RED HORSE Squadron services technician, received what he considered as the "best Christmas gift ever" this holiday season in an unexpected snail mail-sent package. This is his story:

"It's Christmas Eve, and since I'm deployed I'm missing my family even more than I thought possible. My unit just had an awesome Christmas party. All 12 days of Christmas events planned entirely by yours truly, but with a lot of other people's help in the execution process... thanks, Teasha.

I decided to check my email before going to bed, and I saw that there was a second mail call for today.

Wouldn't you know it, I had mail. I got an awesome package, which included the world's largest bag of potato chips! I have to thank the sender for that.

There was another package. It was addressed to the services NCOIC here, which is me. The package was from a kindergarten class at Andersen Elementary School, the school both my boys go to.

Students from the class made Christmas cards for the troops. After looking through all the names on the cards, I started recognizing some of the senders. They were from my son's class.

That's when I found it: the card my son had made. The card wasn't addressed to me; it came with a note asking to hand the cards out to as many Airmen as I could.

From Guam to Afghanistan, what were the odds that his card would make its way to me?

Here's what the back of his card said, 'Dear Airman, Merry Christmas, Love Michael.' That's it; short and sweet. He had no idea who he was making the card for, and somehow, it reached me. Best Christmas gift ever!"

Though being away from loved ones is one of the challenges that servicemembers encounter in tours and deployments, communities and families find ways to keep their hearts close. From a simple gesture made possible by Department of Defense Education Activity's Andersen Elementary School, a father was able to receive a remarkable Christmas surprise from his son, which made his Christmas on deployment a story worth telling.