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Fort Bragg soldiers cherish holidays with family

For military families in North Carolina, being together for Christmas is probably the best gift they could receive.

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — For military families in North Carolina, being together for Christmas is probably the best gift they could receive. Some soldiers stationed at the post are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq next month, while thousands of others are already there.

"As we have kids, it gets more and more exciting because you get to read the Christmas stories, watch the Christmas movies with the kids and kind of re-experience it with them,” Sgt. Doug Levy said. He is assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg.

Levy is home for the holidays; however, he will be deployed to Iraq next month. It will be his third tour there.

"When I leave, he'll still be on the floor. When I get back, he should be walking and talking a little bit,” Doug Levy said of his 11-month-old son.

Knowing that he will be away from his family for another seven months makes being together now all the more special.

"It's a big deal, especially for him to see everybody together and to start making the traditions and memories,” wife Jennifer Levy said.

Christina Brandenberger and her 2-year-old daughter, Ayla, will be without their loved one this holiday. Her husband, Michael Haldeman, is at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, recovering from wounds he suffered in Iraq.

"This is our second Christmas not having him home,” Brandenberger said. "He's making some progress, but he has severe nerve damage.”

So, for a second Christmas, it is just the two of them.

"It’s one of those things. We just try to make it special for her (Ayla),” Brandenberger said.

But Brandenberger has another Army wife to keep her company. Courtney Crum, who is due to have baby in January, understands what it’s like to be without your husband.

Her husband, Specialist Christopher Crum, would have missed the birth of their baby, but then another soldier offered to take his place in Iraq.

"We're thankful for her (the solider) and we hope that she is doing well over there,” Crum said.

Doug Levy should also return from Iraq in time to witness his wife give birth in August.

Given the planned troop surge in Afghanistan, many North Carolina service members from Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune expect to be deployed next Christmas as well.



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