97th AMW families celebrate annual holiday tree lighting

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amanda Lovelace
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Leaders from the 97th Air Mobility Wing celebrated with Airmen and their families at the base’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony, Dec. 3, 2020, at the Wings of Freedom Park at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The yearly tradition provided attendees the opportunity to get together to celebrate the holiday season while practicing COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Col. David Vanderburg, 97th Mission Support Group commander, invited the family of a deployed Airman to light the tree with him, explaining to those in attendance that the family lighting this year’s tree represents the families of more than 130 Altus Airmen who are currently deployed.

Kaitlynn Reinsch, the wife of Staff Sgt. Dakota Reinsch from the 97th Security Forces Squadron, and their son, Ryan, did the honors of lighting the tree with Vanderburg.

“It’s nice to get out and ‘sort of’ see everybody’s faces,” Kaitlynn Reinsch said humorously. “Being with the families and feeling their support is definitely a blessing.”

After the tree was lit, Santa and two of his reindeer greeted 97th AMW families while the Fort Sill Army Band performed a series of holiday songs.

Additionally, the youth center choir sang “Silent Night,” “What Child is This?,” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

“With live reindeer, Santa, the youth center singing and a band all spreading Christmas cheer, how could you not get into the Christmas spirit?,” said Blenda Weidner, 97th Force Support Squadron Freedom Community Center director.

Patrons received cookies and refreshments and were able to socialize with other families during the event.

“After the year we’ve all had, this is something that will bring Christmas joy,” said Kaitlynn Reinsch. “I think we all needed it.”