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The spirit of the season

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Zach Anderson
  • 4th Air Force Public affairs
Sitting down to a feast with family and friends is traditionally one of the highlights of the holiday season. However, the requirements of military duty both at home and abroad oftentimes mean service members are forced to celebrate the holidays while separated from their loved ones.

Such was the case for Airman 1st Class Jeannie Belgrave, a member of the 452nd Forward Support Squadron here. Airman Belgrave, a recent graduate of Basic Military Training, is a newcomer to March Air Reserve Base.  Airman Belgrave doesn't have any family in the area and as Thanksgiving approached, she had no plans for attending any type of holiday celebration.

Enter Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Campbell, 4th Air Force Transportation Superintendent. In his 31 years of service in the Air Force, Chief Campbell has seen his share of holidays spent away from home and understands how difficult it can be to be separated from family during this time of year. As the holidays approached, the chief wanted to do his part to make sure a fellow Airman had the opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

"I was planning a big dinner for the holidays at my home and one of my fellow chiefs suggested I ask this Airman over for dinner because she had nowhere to go. I thought that was a great idea and I didn't hesitate one second to invite her over," said Chief Campbell.

"Big dinner" might be a bit of an understatement. Chief Campbell said this year he was hosting approximately 50 people in his home for a holiday meal. Inviting one more was his way of celebrating the spirit of the season.

"She didn't have a whole lot of options, so I figured it was a great idea to have her over to the house and let her sit down and fellowship with everyone," he said.

After some initial hesitation, Airman Belgrave accepted the invitation ... and was very happy she did.

"I had so much fun," she said. "I was sharing Thanksgiving with people I didn't know, but it was so nice to just be there. There was great food and great people and I felt very happy to be with everyone. It felt good to know that we are able to do things like that because of the work we do in the Air Force, and I felt really great about that!"

Chief Campbell was just happy he had the opportunity to provide some holiday joy to a fellow Airman.

"It made me feel so blessed to be able to open up my home to someone. There are so many people out there in the world who don't have anything to offer, and I am blessed enough to have more than enough food and fellowship to offer to someone else. It's just a good feeling."

The chief also said he hopes others will look out for their fellow service members throughout the holiday season.

"If you are in a position where you have more than enough and can help out someone else, there should be no hesitation to offer that up. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to give or receive from someone to take advantage of that."

Chief Campbell said this is just an example of the extended "family" shared within the Air Force.

"We in the Air Force are always subject to be in a place where we may not be near our immediate family, but we can always have some form of family around. It's just great to be able to take advantage of that. The military is one big family, and we depend heavily on each other. This was just a chance to be there for one of my military family members."

For Airman Belgrave, the holiday celebration was a chance to experience the Air Force family concept firsthand.

"You see that the Air Force is a family, and no matter where you go, you are not alone. You have someone there for you ... and you are there for them as well."