Wagonmasters hold FRG tree lighting, puppet show

By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas “Three … two … one.”

With the help of dozens of children, Col. Larry Phelps, commander, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), threw the giant switch lighting the brigade’s Christmas tree during a junior Family Readiness Group event Dec. 5 at the brigade’s headquarters.

The brigade hosted the holiday event in order to officially kick off the holiday season with an event that has become a tradition for units he leads, Phelps said.

“To me and my family, the holidays are all about family traditions,” he said.

The event got under way with the time-honored military tradition of Retreat, after which, the tree was lit and an appearance was made by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

But Santa didn’t arrive in the traditional sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, this Santa arrived by Humvee, which was decorated to become a sleigh needing no reindeer.

Phelps said this was a very special period of time for many Soldiers in the brigade, because they may not be home with their families to celebrate the holidays next year.

“We’ll be celebrating it in places with names like Taji, Rustamiyah, Jalabad,” Phelps said. “A whole bunch of places spread out all over the maps of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In light of that fact, Phelps told the families the command will do everything it can to ensure they get to spend as much time with their Soldiers as possible this year.

Phelps took a few minutes to recognize the efforts of the brigade’s Soldiers, who have accomplished more than 40,000 discrete missions on Fort Hood since Feb., and told those present to keep the Soldiers already deployed, and their families, in their thoughts and prayers this holiday season. He also thanked all the members of the Central Texas community that worked to make the event possible.

According to Phelps, events like this are important to families and the communities because they give an opportunity to say “thank you.”

“It’s important to give back a little bit to the families that work so hard to support us,” he said.

According to Charles Lyons, the brigade’s family readiness support assistant, these events are important because units must acknowledge and take care of their families.

“We have to show them that we care,” Lyons said. “It’s a team – the Soldier, family, kids and the community.”

Following Santa’s arrival, everyone was given an opportunity for photos with Santa, and all the kids were given a copy of their photo and a gift bag containing small gifts.

The evening closed with a puppet show aimed at the younger kids.

The puppet show aimed to teach the kids life lessons like reaching out to help others, as well as to respect and encourage one another.

One of the kids at the event was overwhelmed by everything at the event.

“I thought it was amazing,” said Kosan Sin, 11.

Sin said his favorite part of the night was the decorations and lights around the headquarters building, but he enjoyed the whole event.


Tim Cowles, a ventriloquist, and his puppet parrot entertain kids and Soldiers at the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), junior family readiness group event Dec. 5. The puppet show encouraged kids to be respectful and reach out to help one another. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)

Col. Larry Phelps, commander of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), gets a little bit of help throwing the switch to light the brigade’s Christmas tree Dec. 5 at the unit’s junior family readiness group tree lighting holiday event. After the tree was lit, Santa arrived in a nontraditional Humvee and the kids were given the opportunity for photos with the jolly old elf. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)