FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Gathered together for a holiday celebration, American soldiers in Afghanistan lit candles and sang Christmas hymns as they celebrated Christmas Eve.
2017 marked the 16th Christmas that American troops have been stationed in Afghanistan.
For many soldiers, it's difficult to spend the holiday season away from family.
U.S. General Joseph Dunford; U.S. Marine Corps >> "And on behalf of everyone back home, why Sergeant Major Trucks and I came here, why we feel so strongly about being here during the holidays, just like you, we've spent many Christmases away from our families while we've been deployed."
Providing entertainment, sweets and gifts, the U-S-O has plenty of volunteers who also help to make the season great for deployed soldiers.
Sergeant Lou Devito; U.S. Soldier >> "U-S-O just got me dressed up as a snowman right now, a lot of people came out, it's great, I just want to wish a Merry Christmas to my mum, dad, brother and my two bulldogs."
This is Julia Laude reporting.