Last Christmas story of 2012: Neighborhood plays Santa for trooper overseas

Fox Creek subdivision sends presents to neighbor’s nephew

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Clare and Mark Dibble have lived in Fox Creek subdivision off Buice Road for 14 years. In that time, they have seen their nephew James Mason grow up in Stockbridge and go on to become a chief warrant officer piloting a Kiowa helicopter in Afghanistan (his third tour). There, he is a member of the Army 101st Combat Aviation Brigade in the 17th Cavalry Regiment Banshees (B Troop).

As a combat helicopter pilot, it is the mission of Mason, 31, and his crew to “go in hot” over the skies of Afghanistan.

This past Christmas, Clare Dibble and her sister, Mason’s mother, wanted to adopt the entire unit and send out Christmas packages to all of the crews in his troop.

So Clare sent out an email to her subdivision asking if neighbors would like to participate.

“We wanted each one to get a personalized stocking filled with goodies and an iTunes card,” Clare said. “I had several families respond, and they were really very generous.”

In all, 13 families made contributions so that they were able to fill 33 stockings for the troops in the unit.

“We were really pleasantly surprised at the response from the neighbors. I was surprised to be able to do so much for the guys. We were able to add some extra things for them to share as a team,” she said.

The care packages went out Dec. 10. On Christmas day, she received an emailed photo of the troops opening their stockings. Included in the stockings were candy, Slim Jims, cookies and trail mix.

“We wanted it to be real holiday snacks, the kinds of things you would want to eat during the holidays. They have Internet access, so they could use their iTunes cards right there on the base,” Clare said.

The Dibbles say they still worry while Mason is over there.

In early December, three suicide car bombs were used to target the joint U.S.-Afghan base in eastern Afghanistan called Forward Operating Base Fenty in Nangarhar Province. Three Afghan soldiers and two terrorists died in the attack near the Jalalabad Airfield.

No Americans were injured in that raid.

Mason’s squadron is due to go home in April and return to their home base at Fort Campbell, Ky.