A large part of the nation tends to kick back and cut slack during the holidays. Some professions cannot do that by sheer nature of the importance of their contribution to national security. Others will not simply because… they don’t want to.

Such was the attitude of my Special Mission Unit (SMU). It was a year that we felt we needed to train more, but we were just running out of days in the year to do it. It was then that we chose to run our live-fire urban combat training all the way up to Christmas eve. There would be no family-man-of-the-years awards for us that year… or any other year for that matter — worms!

Not even Christmas would compromise our resolve to train to standard.

Our urban combat training site was an abandoned neighborhood just off the far end of the runway of a major American airport. The property values had sunk out of sight due to the constant roar of the aircraft overhead. The houses were pretty old — but I don’t think they were older than the airport. It begged the question: “why would anyone think it was a good idea to build a community so close to the flight path of such a large airport?”