Families Prepare Christmas Surprises for Soldiers

By Mark Geary, Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS – A group of wives and children gathered inside the Cedar Rapids VFW Hall Sunday afternoon to send a few holiday surprises to their husbands. Christmas is still about seven weeks away, but it takes awhile for mail to reach soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

“I can’t even put into words how much I miss him. Every day, I count down until he can be with us again,” Nicole Cihla of Cedar Rapids said. Her husband, Spc. Ron Cihla is with the 2/34 BSTB C. Company.

The past few months have been tough on Nicole and the couple’s young twin daughters, Kayleah and Lauren. Spending time stuffing stockings with other military wives provided some comfort.

“It really helps to know there are other people going through the same thing as you,” she said, “It gets us all excited and the soldiers are also super excited because they know they’re getting something from home.”

Erin Flage of Aplington has struggled with the separation. Her husband, Spc. Justin Flage, is also serving in Cihla’s unit.

“The hardest part is the lack of communication and not being able to talk every day. Email is nice, but it’s not the same as being able to give him a hug every night,” Flage said. “You deal with it like everybody else. You go one day at a time. It’s an important job they’re doing. So, we’re here to support them.”

Being separated at Christmas is especially difficult for the Flages because it’s also the anniversary of their engagement.

While it’s impossible to predict what it will feel like to be separated at holidays, the families are all already looking forward to spending next Christmas together.
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