Soldier’s mission to be Father Christmas for comrades

AN OXFORD soldier was this year tasked with distributing presents to his comrades out in Afghanistan.

Major Luke Dance, a logistics operations officer based at Camp Bastion, was made responsible for making sure every member of UK personnel in Afghanistan gets their own present box from charity UK4U.

Maj Dance, a staff officer with 502 Logistics Operations, had expected 9,600 boxes to come in from the UK.

The 32-year-old said the boxes, which included things such as wind-up torches, vouchers, keyrings and packs of cards, arrived in Afghanistan and were then broken down into allocations for various units and transported to where they need to be.

He said the task was challenging, and very different from most of the logistics involving the British military effort in Afghanistan. He said: “One of the key things is making sure that there is enough, and everybody gets a box on Christmas Day.

“It’s time-critical and it has to be one for everybody, whereas with a lot of logistics we can either get it there early or send too many and not have to worry about it.”

And although the boxes do not contain anything valuable or expensive, he said: “It’s as much the thought as anything else, and it’s a nice thing to have.

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“They are actually fairly collectable. We’ve been asked to return some for the Imperial War Museum.”

Maj Dance is on his third tour of Afghanistan.

He spent Christmas away from wife Suzanne.

He said: “For me, Christmas is about family, so it’s not nice being away.”

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