SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Even though the temperatures are still hovering around the mid-80s, the winter holiday season has arrived at Joint Task Force-Bravo.
Typically, around this time of year the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office increases the amount of special events it offers to servicemembers stationed here, said Rachel Nicholls, services branch manager.
"We know there are a lot of people who stick around the base during the holidays," she explained. "We want to make sure they have plenty to do to keep them entertained."
The holiday festivities kicked off with a Thanksgiving feast at the dining facility and the annual Turkey Bowl flag-football game, followed with a live show by the Air Force's performance group, Tops in Blue.
Air Force 1st Lt. Molly Prenger, JTF-Bravo food services officer, said the Thanksgiving meal was a fantastic success thanks to the Dining Facility staff and volunteers who helped serve the food.
"Each major supporting command provided volunteers to serve the troops," she said. Among the volunteers were Army Col. Marcus De Oliveira, JTF-Bravo commander and Charles Ford, United States ambassador to Honduras.
In the Turkey Bowl, the 612th Air Base Wing's football team beat the Army Forces team 18-12, claiming the victory for the Air Force for the second year in a row. Immediately after the game, spectators made their way to the Soto Cano fire department to watch Tops in Blue sing and dance to popular songs from the last six decades, commemorating the Air Force's 60th anniversary.
Nicholls said this was the fourth year Tops in Blue has performed for JTF-Bravo and "they will definitely be invited back.
"They were absolutely delighted to perform here," she added, "and I have received nothing but compliments about their show."
Although Thanksgiving has come and gone, there is still more than a month left in the traditional holiday season, and many more activities are on the calendar for those servicemembers sticking around Soto Cano.
The base theater will continue to have movie marathons, typical of four-day weekends, Nicholls said, but servicemembers aren't restricted to watching what MWR has scheduled.
"MWR is here for the troops," Nicholls explained. "Tell me what you want to see and I'll try to make it happen." She added anyone can bring movies from their own collection to play on the big screen with prior coordination.
Aside from movies, more live performances are on the schedule over the next few months.
Country singer Todd Fritsch and the band Stampede are scheduled to perform two live shows on Dec. 10 and 11, as well as participate in a few out of the ordinary events. The musicians will be competing in a volleyball game against the JTF-Bravo Medical Element and judging the unit's chili cook-off.
"This has never been done, so we're really looking forward to it," Nicholls said. "It will be interesting, having a Texas band judge a chili cook-off with all Honduran ingredients."
Servicemembers longing for a home-cooked meal will be offered the next best thing Christmas Eve when the DFAC lays out enough food to feed an army (and an air force.)
Lieutenant Prenger, deployed to Soto Cano from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wa., said the Christmas meal will be similar to the Thanksgiving one, but with more of a subdued, family theme.
"For Thanksgiving, there were a lot of civilians and dignitaries invited, but this next one will be geared more toward the troops," she said.
Trips to various locations and attractions throughout Honduras are being offered as usual, but Nicholls said those interested in going should sign up soon.
"Military have priority on these trips, but visiting family members are also welcome to attend," she said. "We do our best to accommodate everyone."
Members of the United States armed forces sometimes find themselves away from home for months or years at a time, and occasionally they are gone during the holidays. For those looking for something fun to do to help pass the time before they can see their loved ones again, they only need to remember that for the MWR office, morale is the mission.