Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020 and my Christmas Haul!

 Merry Christmas to all of the great Sound Officers Call readers out there!  

American Soldiers in Vietnam celebrating Christmas in the field

The celebration of Christmas and other holidays during war has always fascinated me, particularly since I was a Soldier at war on Christmas.  It's hard to explain just what I found so wonderful about the celebration of an important holiday for me while deployed, since being deployed is a mostly unpleasant experience and likely much worse in decades past.

For me, Christmas was always a chance to bring a little bit of home to the deployment, and American Soldiers in my experience have always made due with what they had on hand to try and make their foxhole, tactical operations center, desk, bunk, trench, combat vehicle, or wherever their fighting space was, a little bit more "festive."  

M60 gunner in Vietnam with a Christmas tree adorning his LBE

Years ago I spent 3 Christmas holidays in Iraq, once as a platoon leader and twice as a staff officer.  All of those tours saw wonderful holidays, with very short breaks in routine, mundane, or dangerous work (patrolling, briefings, paperwork - try to figure out which ones were mundane, dangerous, or routine :)  the answers may surprise you!).  

Once, as a Brigade staff officer in charge of my own section, we enlisted the "moms" in the S2 section to bake cookies and mail them to us in Iraq.  We held a "bake off" with totally neutral judges, and issued awards for the glory of the "Best Christmas Cookie Baked" for the Brigade S2 section.  we also delivered awards for most creative.  The moms from the USA jumped at this opportunity and baked their hearts out!  Pictures were sent home around our conference table with all of us enjoying the boxes of cookies that were sent.

Another Christmas saw me on a leader's reconnaissance to southern Iraq for an upcoming mission our Field Artillery Battalion was to undertake, and upon return, friends of mine, mostly lieutenants from my own A Battery (ghostriders) and B Battery (bulldogs), along with my best bud, we'll call him Sergeant Dave, gathered up all of the goodies that were sent to us, found an open table at the "Morale, Welfare, and Recreation" tent, and snacked on goodies from home that each of us contributed to.  

We also exchanged presents before going to a really wonderful dinner at the messhall (or as the Army now calls it rather gloomily - the "dining facility" )- I do have to say though, the US Army always went all out for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, and if you both indulge me and excuse Robert Shaw's accent, it always reminded me of this comical scene from a well known war movie!)

My best friend Dave (left) and yours truly, a 23 year old lieutenant with a full head of hair at Christmas - Balad Airbase in Iraq in 2003 

Anyways that's enough nostalgia from me!  I would also like to show the world what Santa dropped off for me last night!  Apparently, like many of you, Santa and his Elven workforce were enamored with the "Allure of Simple Wargaming" project.  

So much so that he dropped off 2 excellent games that I am dying to have a go at!

Hold the Line!  Frederick's War - This will dovetail nicely in with my 2021 Priorities!  Oops - IVE SAID TOO MUCH!

Hold the Line!  American Civil War!  I think units are Brigades and I am SUPER excited about this one, particularly since you can refight entire battles.  Another 2021 project that this will dovetail nicely in with!

Anyways I'm going to wrap this post up now and rejoin the family, but before I do, I heartily recommend you surf over to Norm's "Battlefields and Warriors" blog for his outstanding Christmas 2020 retrospective on what a year this has been.  Norm's blog posts on Christmas have become a solid tradition here at SOUND OFFICERS CALL!  

2021 priorities coming up soon, and definitely MORE GAMING as the holidays move on!  Happy and Merry Gaming!  Bring on 2021 please!

Merry Christmas and God Bless,



  1. Steve, thanks for the shout. Really looking forward to see what comes in 2021 from you. Best wishes, Norm.

  2. Merry Christmas sir! Those photos are very evocative. All the best.

  3. Merry Christmas, Steve. I enjoyed the reminisces, although I am happy to be the first male ion my family for at least 4 generations not to have served in the military (that fell to my sister!).

  4. Thanks for sharing Steve. It just confirms that you are my kind of guy. If I lived near you I would be a very enthusiastic participant in your marvelous games. May 2021 be really good for you and family! From my lonely lockdown I will be popping by to the blog regularly. You inspired me to paint a lot of figures to a very high standard this year. I aim to finish my 15mm AWI (including Spanish/French//West Indies/Cuddalore) next year.

    1. Thank you Noel! You are welcome to game at my humble table anytime! If you ever find yourself in the northeast USA let me know!

      Hoping 2021 is much better for us all. Dont think ive ever been so happy to see a year done! :)

      Stay tuned I have big wargaming plans for 2021!!!

  5. A timely reminder I need a dose of Telly Savalas and Chaffees before the year is out... Looking forward to your big plans!

    1. You know Jeffers I had this crazy idea to game the engagement with Charles Bronson's infantry and the Germans in the woods in the beginning using the Battlegroup Rules BUT using M48 tanks and M3 halftracks painted panzer grey as the Germans, and M24 Chaffees painted OD green with white stars (I guess like they're supposed to be painted) and actually play out some of the battles from the movie.

      I think that would be alot of fun. I'd also make sure there was a German command truck with driver "Conrad" and an M24 covered with gear called "Bargain Basement"!

    2. Ha ha! SNAP! I have long considered a Hollywood style of game but was stymied by a lack of M47s. Now everything is available computer printed it can be done. Oh dear, could we start a craze here? 😆 I actually commandeered the TV this afternoon and watched the movie again. Telly on the telly. Marvellous!