Patriotic Christmas tree

The patriotic red, white and blue III Corps and Fort Hood Christmas tree provides a striking backdrop to the “Death Dealer” statue that sits on the side of III Corps Headquarters Dec. 5, following the official Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. 

Fort Hood’s 60-foot Christmas tree lit up the night Dec. 5 during the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in front of III Corps Headquarters.

“There’s nothing quite like the glow of a Christmas tree,” Maj. Gen. Kenneth Kamper, deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood. “It represents so much during the Christmas season. The tree represents the anticipation of what is to come – the time of holiday and the Christmas season is here.”

Members of Fort Hood and the surrounding communities were invited to attend the annual tree lighting, which included live music from the 1st Cavalry Division Band, the Oveta Culp Hobby Choir, Fort Hood’s children’s choir, who donned reindeer antlers, kicking off the evening with Christmas carols. The audience was encouraged to sing along with the music.

In Fort Hood tradition, two children were invited to join the commander in lighting the Christmas tree. This year’s special guests were 7-year-old Jonathon Brown Jr. and 3-year-old Teagan Austin, who joined Kamper and Emma White, wife of Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, to pull the candy cane switch and light up the season.

The tree is traditionally lit by the III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, but White is currently deployed as the headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. Kamper assumed the duty in White’s stead.

Jonathon is the son of Staff Sgt. Jonathon Brown, 3rd Security Forces Assistance Brigade. Teagan is the daughter of Spc. Anthony Austin, 4th Squadron, 9th Cav. Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. Both Soldiers are currently deployed.

Kamper said a Christmas tree represents a lot of things – blessings, hope, love, peace, faith and joy – but the Fort Hood tree represents something more meaningful.

“This tree represents the colors of our nation. It represents the service and sacrifice to our nation,” Kamper said about the patriotic red, white and blue lights. “It’s a reminder to keep the more than 10,000 deployed Phantom Warriors in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.”

The ceremony concluded with a special visit by Santa Claus, who arrived in style on the 1st Cav. Div. Horse Detachment’s wagon, before heading into the East Atrium to take photos with excited children.

Following the ceremony, families followed Santa Claus inside for photos and were provided a copy of the photo, along with and assortment of food, snacks and cake.

“We wish for all of you all … that’s a Southern phrase,” Kamper joked, as the audience laughed. “We wish for all of you all a full measure of joy as we light this tree in anticipation for that Christmas day, that’s just a short way ahead.”