Cloquet, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - T.J. Smith is Staff Sergeant of the Cloquet–based 94th Cavalry Unit--also known as "Crazy Troop"--and for Smith, along with other attendees of the Christmas party held at the Cloquet Armory earlier Sunday, celebrating togetherness while coping with having loved ones stationed overseas was the mission.
"When you join, you're not just joining a service. You're actually joining a family. And we're here today as a family to celebrate Christmas together, and while we might have a loved one overseas, we can at least take comfort with each other," said Smith.
As Smith recalls from he and his fellow soldiers' experiences, having to spend the holidays separated from family is never easy.
"When a father or a mother deploys, it's obviously very tough on everybody—but none more so than the children," said Smith, solemnly.
And for Butch Liebaert—chapter president of the Lake Superior 119 Retired Enlisted Association, and host of the party—holding an event for the "Crazy Troop" family just made sense.
"They missed Christmas and Thanksgiving, so they know what it's like to be gone, and be without their families. And we're just trying to bring some good atmosphere and cheer to the families, and let them know—and the servicemen know—that we do care, and that their families are going to be taken care of back home," said Liebaert.
So, how do you throw an appropriate party for over 30 children of the 94th Cavalry Unit? Simple—give them what every child wants for Christmas: arts, crafts, ice cream, and an opportunity to decorate their own cookies.
"They get to eat them when they're done, which they're happy about," said Liebaert, laughing.
And let's not forget a visit from the big man himself.
"Santa Claus will be coming with presents, which is the main thing they're here for," said Liebaert.