They may be glowing with pride, but many Georgia families aren’t feeling quite the same joy this Christmas season.
Loved ones serving in the military away from home this holiday season won’t be around when carols are sung and presents opened.
Army & Air Force Hometown News Service, based in San Antonio, has helped fill that void somewhat by sending videotaped messages from members of the armed forces abroad to relatives in the U.S. by way of the media.
“I think it’s just a fantastic thing,” said Jack Turner of Buford. “It’s good for the families back here. It’s good for them to be able to have the connection.”
Jack Turner and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of Air Force Maj. James Turner, who is stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.
The video features James Turner’s wife, Stacey, and the couple’s four children: Hayley, Summer, Chase and Nolan.
“We want to wish all our friends and family in Buford, Ga., a very happy holidays,” Stacey said.
The children then say in unison, “Happy holidays!”
Absent from the video was James, who was stateside for some training, said his father.
The agency distributes the videos through the media. Several Atlanta news organizations have been airing them, family members said.
Jack Turner said he was alerted by some TV stations about the video message, which stood out for him in one humorous way.
“When I talked to Jim the other day, I said, ‘Nolan needs a haircut,’” he added, laughing.
Lenore Hamrick received a holiday greeting from the wife and children of her nephew, Army Chief Warrant Officer John Anderson. Anderson is serving in Iraq while his family lives at Fort Wainwright in Alaska.
“We wish you a happy holidays,” said Monika and the children, Catherine, Sarah and Emily.
“We love you and we miss you,” Monika added.
Hamrick said she is close to John.
“I have two sons and he’s like my third one,” she said.
Robin Mize of Gainesville received a message from her brother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles “Chuck” Mize, who is serving in Iraq, while his family is staying in Baumholder, Germany.
A fourth local family, the Foxes of Gainesville, couldn’t be reached for comment.
They received a message from Air Force 1st Lt. Jacob Fox, who is stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
“We just want to say ‘hi’ to all our friends and family back in Gainesville, Ga.,” he said.
Mize said she had heard that an Atlanta TV station was going to broadcast her brother’s message a couple of weeks ago.
“When I watched during the period of time they said it would be in, I didn’t actually see it,” she said. “So, I knew there was one out there; I just haven’t gotten a copy yet.”
The video doesn’t show her 38-year-old brother. Instead, it features his wife, Petrea, and their 10-year-old daughter, Victoria, both decked out in red.
“We wish you happy holidays and a happy New Year,” Petrea said.
Victoria then says hello to her “Aunt Rara” and adds, “I hope you can come visit us sometime in Germany.”
Robin, who hasn’t seen her brother in three years, misses him.
Upon finally seeing the video, she said “it made me laugh.”
“I ended up e-mailing it to my friends and they were like, ‘Oh they’re so pretty,’” Mize said. “Of course, now my nickname at work is Aunt Rara.”