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Something to be thankful for

Airman 1st Class Christian Martin, 28th Communication Squadron RF transmission systems technician, shows a photo of his siblings at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. Martin is thankful for his siblings and the support they have given him throughout the years. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

Airman 1st Class Christian Martin, 28th Communication Squadron RF transmission systems technician, shows a photo of his siblings at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. Martin is thankful for his siblings and the support they have given him throughout the years. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

Airman 1st Class Stacy Oaks, 28th Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems apprentice, stands with a photo of her and her husband, Josh, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. Even though she will not be able to go home this holiday season, Oaks is thankful she can still spend time with her husband. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

Airman 1st Class Stacy Oaks, 28th Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems apprentice, stands with a photo of her and her husband, Josh, at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. Even though she will not be able to go home this holiday season, Oaks is thankful she can still spend time with her husband. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

Airman 1st Class Emilcarlo Ortiz, 28th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, stands with a photo of him and his fiancé Weynmhe at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. His family currently resides in the Philippines, however, Ortiz uses the photo as a daily reminder of what he is thankful for. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

Airman 1st Class Emilcarlo Ortiz, 28th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, stands with a photo of him and his fiancé Weynmhe at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Nov. 20, 2015. His family currently resides in the Philippines, however, Ortiz uses the photo as a daily reminder of what he is thankful for. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class James L. Miller/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- During the holidays, many Airmen stationed around the world are often unable to be home with their families.

Despite the distance from their loved ones, Ellsworth Airmen still have something to be thankful for.

"I am thankful for my husband," said Airman 1st Class Stacy Oaks, 28th Maintenance Squadron environmental and electrical systems apprentice. "I have family in Illinois, Florida, Wisconsin and Germany, so it's nice to be able to have him to spend the holidays with."

While Oaks may not be with her whole family, she still keeps the traditions they have shared.

"Thanksgiving is all about the football and food," Oaks said. "Christmas is about wearing pajamas all day, building snowmen and being around friends."

Other Airmen have different ideas about the holidays.

"My favorite part is being free of distractions," said Airman 1st Class Karen Wren, 28th Operations Support Squadron analyst. "It's the one time of the year you can't help but be reminded that what really matters is the people in your life."

Her family may not be here for the holidays, but the Air Force has allowed Wren to become closer with friends she now calls family.

"From my job to my friends, everything I have right now is thanks to the Air Force," Wren said. "They make the holidays better than I thought they would be while away from home."

Additionally, many Airmen are thankful for opportunities they gain by joining the Air Force.

"I am thankful for the position I'm in and the friends I have made who I consider family now," said Airman 1st Class Christian Martin, 28th Communication Squadron RF transmission systems technician. "I get to serve my country, make my family proud and improve myself. You can't ask for much more than that."

Many families use the holidays as a time to give thanks; however, Martin's family takes a different approach.

"We use it as a time of remembrance and thoughtfulness, and to just enjoy the fellowship of family and friends being able to be at the same place at one time," Martin said. "We are thankful for everyone being together, but without everyone, we do not have anything to be thankful for." 

Although many Airmen have an easy route to get home for the holidays, there are others who have to cross oceans to see family.

"Most of my family is in the Philippines, so getting home for the holidays is a real challenge," said Airman 1st Class Emilcarlo Ortiz, 28th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician. "But I am thankful for my friends I have made while here who I now consider my family. They make the holidays a lot easier." 

However, Ortiz still misses his family and fiancée.

"I keep a picture of her on my desk to remind me what I'm working so hard for; she is definitely what I am most thankful for," Ortiz said.

Airmen on Ellsworth come from different places and have different religions and cultural and ethnic backgrounds, but are all part of the same Air Force family, and as a family, they take care of each other.

Having spent the holidays away from family before, there is some advice Airmen can agreed on; don't be alone.

"Even if it is just some of your co-workers, go out and be with other people," Oaks said. "The worst thing to do is just stay in your room by yourself."

Ortiz added it's okay to stay on base and enjoy holiday meals at the dining facility; however, invite some friends so you're not alone.

"We are all part of the same Air Force family," Martin said. "If you know someone who is not doing anything, invite them to eat with you, they will appreciate it more than you know."

Wren recommended Airmen just go out, whether it's a local or five-star restaurant. The important part is spending time with others.