Overseas Americans to greet folks back home for holidays

Christine June
415th Base Support Battalion

The Army and Air Force Hometown News Service from San Antonio will have a camera team in the KMC starting Wednesday recording holiday greetings for broadcast on local-stateside television and radio stations.

***image1***The camera team will be here for six days at three different locations throughout the KMC taping Hometown News Holiday Greetings to send to relatives in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Active duty, government civilians, retirees, Department of Defense Dependent School teachers and family members stationed in the KMC and surrounding areas, who will be in Germany during the holidays, are eligible to participate.
Sgt. José A. Alvarez, 415th Base Support Battalion Directorate of Human Resources administrative NCO, did his first holiday greeting last year, which led to a funny story that may be told during holiday family gatherings for years to come.

“I was on the phone with my sister in Tampa, Fla., and she was seeing all these greetings from Soldiers on the T.V.,” said Sergeant Alvarez. “She said to me, ‘I wish my brother would’ve done something like that,’ and before I could answer her, I popped up on the screen. She just freaked out, and started screaming on the phone.”

Sergeant Alvarez is getting deployed to Guantanamo, Cuba this month and hoping that the Navy has a similar holiday program so he can send greetings to his family in Puerto Rico and Florida.

Holiday greetings are nothing new to Staff Sgt. Natasha Schleper, American Forces Network Kaiserslautern T.V. and Radio News NCO in charge.
Before her assignment here, she worked at Army and Air Force Hometown News Service for four years and went on three holiday-greeting trips to Europe, Southwest Asia and Pacific, gathering more than 40,000 recordings.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it will mean so much to your families,” she said. “Your families are going to miss you so much during the holidays and to just see you flash by that screen, it will fill their hearts with joy.”

Sergeant Schleper said she’s already practicing her holiday message for this year and plans to do holiday greetings to everywhere and anywhere she “can drum up a little bit of family.”

What to wear
Active-duty members must be in uniform. Civilians should be in appropriate attire.

What to bring
Participants should bring address books along, because the more information people can provide to the hometown news crew the better the chance the greeting will air. They will need information like names, addresses including zip codes and phone numbers.

What to say
Participants’ greetings must include the following information: Who they are, where they are, who the greeting is going to, where they are and some sort of holiday message.

A generic greeting is: “Hi, I’m Staff Sgt. John Hill, currently stationed here in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I would like to wish my incredible wife Millie and wonderful daughter Autumn in New York City, the best Christmas ever. I love you. I miss you, and I hope to see you soon.”

The sponsor must accompany family members, unless otherwise deployed, TDY or in the hopital. If the sponsor is deployed, that needs to be said in the greeting as well.

Also, family members can make a greeting to send to deployed members, provided they are going to be there during the holidays.

How many?
There is not a limit on how many greetings participants can send to the states as long as they live in different zip codes. However, the greetings must be sent to bona fide relatives, tied by law or by blood – fiancés are not considered relatives.

The process
On the day of taping, participants will fill out forms for every greeting they plan to do. A hometown news crew member will verify the information and give participants a small briefing.

A crewmember will escort participants to the camera and place microphones on them. The camera operator will line them up and record the greeting in “5, 4, 3, 2….”