The students and families of Sergeants Major Course Class 64 joined forces with the Staff, Faculty and families of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy to celebrate the holiday season Ultima-style with the 12 Days of USASMA.
The annual event began on Dec. 4 with the International Holiday Celebration and tree lighting ceremony which attendees were treated to a musical compilation from the Fort Bliss Hand Bell Choir, and songs of the season from the USASMA Carolers and Word of Life Combined Choir. Attendees also learned a bit of Christmas culture from abroad with presentations of how Christmas is celebrated in Australia, Brazil and New Zealand. Following the opening ceremony Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant, brought everyone outside for the lighting of the Academy’s Christmas Tree.
Surrounded by children, Malloy commenced the countdown and within seconds The 12 Days of USASMA were officially in full gear to include the introduction of Santa with candy canes for the children.
“One of the biggest reasons why we do the 12 Days of USASMA is because one of the most important assets the Army has, and which leads to a lot of our success, is the families,” Malloy said. So when you look at the holiday season, especially around the Christmas events, we leverage the opportunity to do different things for the families. You have the 12 days of Christmas so we just changed it upon a little bit to the 12 days of USASMA and have events so that we could open up a broad window on the calendar for families to come out and participate in various scheduled events as their schedules allowed.”
Each night from Dec. 4 through Dec. 13, weekend not included, the Academy planned different activities for the families that included pictures with Santa; movie nights with pajama contests, popcorn, hot cocoa; the reading of the “Night before Christmas;” a Magic show; Holiday Treat night featuring foods from around the world; and the Bus tour of Holiday Lights which culminated with a stop at Fred Loya’s holiday of lights spectacular in East El Paso.
“One of our strongest supporters year after year has been Fred Loya and the Christmas light show that he puts on. It really sends a strong message and sets the example for what it means to give,” Malloy said. “He starts setting up his lights in August and it is an absolutely first-class professional event. Then on a Wednesday and Thursday night each year he opens up his home for special sessions for the Sergeants Major Academy and their families. This year we took about eight bus loads of families over to see his light show. Absolutely a first class event and is really one of the highlights of what we do during the 12 days of USASMA. “
The event was the culmination of planning from the entire Academy, Malloy said, and is just another example of Team Ultima and how it does business.
“Between the entire Academy, each one of them took a portion of the 12 Days of USASMA and worked it. The students of Class 64 did a phenomenal job with the opening ceremonies and all of the events associated with that all the way up to the closing events with the international students lead by the international military student office. The Staff and Faculty directorate as well as the Sergeants Major Course and the Fort Bliss NCO Academy did an amazing job on the 12 Days of USASMA. It was a huge success.”