Nicole Redden rounded off her first year at Fort Hood by celebrating the holiday season listening to school-age children sing Christmas carols.

Redden, who moved to the area in January, brought her three children to a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 5 in the East Atrium of the III Corps Headquarters.

“It’s our first time here so we wanted to see what it’s about,” Redden said. “It’s just a way to be a part of the community.”

With about 4,400 soldiers deployed overseas and away from their loved ones during the holiday season, Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, 1st Cavalry Division commander, thanked families for attending the event as a way to come together as a community.

With various decorations and lights displayed all over Fort Hood, Ierardi said there’s no escaping the fact that 2012 will soon come to a close.

“I hope that this coming new year finds you well, safe and happy,” Ierardi said. “I urge you to take advantage of the extra time to spend with your family and also take time to think about those who can’t be with us and their loved ones who must spend this time separated from their soldiers.”

Members of the Ellison High School Chamber Singers, the Fort Hood Family Housing children’s choir, the MadJazz Band from Killeen High School and the 1st Cavalry Division Band provided entertainment as families got into the holiday spirit.

After Brig. Gen. Dean Milner, Canadian deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, and his wife lit the tree, children lined up to visit Santa.

Pfc. Victor Chhoeum, 62nd Signal Battalion, attended the event to get a photo of his son, Alexander, on Santa’s lap during the 9-month-old’s first Christmas.

“We haven’t done too much because (Alexander’s) so little, but we’re definitely going to try to build traditions,” Chhoeum’s wife, Elizabeth, said. Listening to the different choirs sing and celebrating Christmas as a community was her favorite part of the evening.

Redden’s daughter, Faith, 10, sang along to her favorite holiday song, “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer,” during the ceremony.

“It was excellent,” she said.

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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