A Visit from St. Nicholas in Bagdad


‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the place, young soldiers were dreaming of beer by the case

The stockings were hung by the gun rack with pride, in the hopes that there soon would be porn flicks (denied!)

Sergeants Major lay abed, tense in the rack, thinking even at Christmas, there would be no slack

And so I lay down, just my pillow and me, as I thought pleasant thoughts of my wife, in DC

When out in the quad, arose a noise rather dire – scary, but different from indirect fire,

So I grabbed my helmet, armor (and cup), and popped out the door to see what was up

Sans lights, through the darkness, I quietly sneaked, and around the blast barrier I carefully peeked.

The moon on the dust gave just enough light, to see what was happ’ning (even though it was night).

And the thing that I saw in my hasty survey, was jolly St Nick in an up-armored sleigh.

Complete with elf gunner, who cowered in wait, afraid they had stepped on an armed pressure plate

And I must now admit to substantial surprise, at seeing ol’ Santa in armor his size

And up from the LZ, there arose such a din, as reindeer started whining about the place they were in

The reindeer complained about their helmets nonstop, with antlers poked up through holes in the top

Poor Rudolph and Santa seemed to come close to blows, because of the rhino in front of his nose

And the stuff they were hauling would make anyone mean – the sleigh it was loaded like a C-17

Then Santa instructed his folks to hold still, until all had finished their 5/25 drill

“Green up” bellowed Santa, who quite clearly knew, that COMET had forgotten to shut down the CREW.


“To the top of the trailers now, lightly I say.  Nobody knows how much we now weigh.

“And silently, for we want no one alarmed, because, as you know, they’re quite heavily armed”

So up to the rooftops (they stayed in a hover), went Santa while looking for much better cover

As he carefully alighted from his ride in the lull, I noticed the sleigh had a new V-shaped hull

“I really miss chimneys” he said with a grin, as he frantically looked for another way in

So I broke from my hide site, and came to the fore, to make his life easy, I opened the door.

And he stepped right inside; a deep breath he took, and I sidled up close for a much better look

His adornment was different from what I recall; dressed in new camo, with no red at all

Some things were just right, like the bulging toy sack, (with the audible slosh of a filled Camelbak)

His eyes, they still twinkled, his cheeks, just as rosy, in a Thinsulate parka that made him look cozy,

And if his belly still shook, no man could tell, strapped as he was in his IBA shell

And from over his shoulder, in standard light green, poked the telltale antenna of a one-seventeen.

He had pouches and pockets attached everywhere, and a bright orange panel (to be seen from the air).

His pipe, it was gone, I was happy to know, to ward off the fire that would be drawn by the glow.

He spoke not at all, just went right to his work, while the elf in the turret went loudly berserk,

“Get a move on, fat boy, and get off the ground, before we are spotted and we all catch a round”

But Santa just smiled, his hand in a pocket, no doubt unconcerned ‘bout the occasional rocket

And Santa, as always, remained in control: “We’re off to III Corps, to fill stockings with coal”

And they lifted off slowly, while he called, on the air, “This is Sleigh zero-one, and we’re airborne, beware”

They flew low and slow, clearly showing no malice, off to the stockings that were hung in the palace

And I thought to myself, as I saw they were gone, “Man, I certainly hope that his IFF’s on”


Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions and taking part in 2.5 SAM kills over 10 combat deployments. As an irregular warfare operations officer, Col. Pietrucha has two additional combat deployments in the company of U.S. Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. Government.

Image: U.S. Air Force photo, Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon