Former Marine remembers, pays tribute to those far from home during the holidays

By Ed Shank, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Paul Smith knows firsthand what it’s like to be away from family and friends during the holidays. As a retired Marine Corps officer and current Defense Logistics Agency civilian employee, Smith has deployed to combat zones both in and out of uniform.

“It’s always hard to be away for Christmas,” Smith says. “When I was deployed to Iraq back in 2003 my mother sent me a small Christmas tree. Nobody else there had one, so everybody always gathered around my pod just to see the tree. We’d sing Christmas carols and try to make the best of our situation. Since then I’ve tried to show my support the best way I could.”

As an equipment program manager with DLA Distribution Current Operations, Smith decided this year’s tribute to those deployed in harm’s way would be in the form a patriotic display in the third-floor lobby of the organization’s New Cumberland headquarters. There he and his co-workers created a display that includes an artificial holiday tree, miniature flags representing all military service branches and lights to set the whole thing off.

“I came up with the concept of having a red, white and blue celebration of Christmas,” he says. “If you look under the Christmas tree we have all the boots of everybody that deployed in J3. We have the Army, the Navy, Air Force and Marines to include a pair of my boots when I was in Iraq in 1990. DLA is about warfighter first and being able to do something for the troops is very important to me.”

Smith says that, while many Americans spend well-deserved time at home with their families during the holiday season, it’s important to remember that there are still thousands of service members not able to do so.

“One of our contractors has a husband deployed to Iraq right now,” Smith says. “She was able to put a couple ornaments on the tree as a tribute to her husband, then sent a photo to him so he and his co-workers know that we’re thinking about them. It’s not a lot, but it’s our way of saying your DLA family is thinking about you.”

To watch a video of this story, click here: https://dvidshub.net/r/lpumlk