Families and deployed Guardsmen brought together for holidays through video conferences

Story by Spc. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Joyce and Ashley Watts talk to their Guardsmen, Capt. Justin Watts with the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, via videoconference during the Family and friends celebrated the holidays during the Joint Force Headquarters’ Christmas luncheon held at the Capital Plaza hotel in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 7. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

FRANKFORT Ky. – An abundance of smiles graced faces from all around the world on Saturday, all in one room.

Family members of deployed Kentucky Guardsmen were given a unique opportunity to see their Soldiers and Airmen via video teleconferencing as part of the annual Joint Forces Headquarters Christmas luncheon at the Capital Plaza hotel in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 7.

Guardsmen from the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, currently serving in Afghanistan, the 2nd Battalion, 238th MEDEVAC, currently in the Persian Gulf region, the 123rd Security Forces and the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, also serving in Kuwait, greeted friends and family in attendance. Governor Steve Beshear also shared the special afternoon with the families and members of the Kentucky Guard leadership.

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Kentucky’s Governor, Steve Beshear and Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward Tonini and his wife Carol, joined family members of deployed Guardsmen in celebrating the holidays during the Joint Force Headquarters’ Christmas luncheon held at the Capital Plaza hotel in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 7. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

David Ball, son of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ball, a medic with the 2/238th MEDEVAC, misses his father greatly. He was able to hear from him during the luncheon.

“Not having him home is hard,” said David. “I miss him everyday. I’m proud of what he’s doing though. My dad is a medic, so he saves lives every day and also protects our country.”

To see more photos from the event, click here.

Governor Beshear spoke on behalf of the people living in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as he thanked our Guardsmen and family members.

“We’ve had almost every kind of natural disaster in the state of Kentucky,” said Beshear. “From hurricane like winds to ice storms. Kentucky’s National Guardsmen are always ready and willing to help whenever I call. It takes a special kind of person to be strong for both your families here at home and, at the same time, for your soldier in harm’s way overseas. That’s a special kind of sacrifice and commitment.”

Family members weren’t the only ones who were able to videoconference with the troops. Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams, Chief of the Joint Staff for Kentucky, jumped at the opportunity to talk to the Guardsmen.

“Being able to communicate with the Soldiers overseas means everything to me,” said Adams. “I’m glad they are able to see their families during this time of year and I can’t wait until they get home.”

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Brig. Gen. Benjamin Adams, Chief of the Joint Staff for Kentucky, speaks with troops deployed overseas via a videoconference during the Joint Force Headquarters’ Christmas luncheon held at the Capital Plaza hotel in Frankfort, Ky., Dec. 7. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Brandy Mort)

Guardsmen from the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment currently stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were also invited to participate however, they couldn’t communicate due to their signal strength. Even though they didn’t get to see him, David and Diane Bolton, parents of the 133rd’s Sgt. David Bolton were able to speak to their son over the phone the morning of the Christmas luncheon.

“Being able to hear his voice is such a blessing,” said Diane. “He lived in China for 2 years and we were able to talk to him every day. But this is completely different. We only get to talk to him every couple of weeks. We asked what he wanted us to send for Christmas and all he wants is cold weather. We miss him a lot but we are very proud of what he is doing.”

While the family members were able to see their loved ones, a special visitor, also known as Santa, visited the children during the event. Several were excited to give Santa their Christmas list of what they would like under their tree.

Mason Peach, son of 1st Sgt. Keith Peach with the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, only wanted one thing for Christmas and his birthday combines, to see his father. During the videoconference, he received his gift.

“Being able to see him was awesome,” said Mason. “It’s the only thing I wanted.”

Even though their Soldiers were far away, friends and family members were filled with joy as they saw the faces of their Guardsmen. Lots of food, fun and smiles filled the banquet hall as they gathered to celebrate the season and their loved ones. Even if they only talked to them for a couple minutes, it gave them hope until their Soldier or Airmen returns.

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