HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -After spending the holidays on leave with family in Huntsville, U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Barret Crawford will rejoin his unit this week.
"I have a bunch of training exercises coming up and supplies," Crawford explained. "We're not stopping, we're keeping going."
A few pictures in Nick's Ristorante show Crawford's service with the 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, part of around 14,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan.
"When you see pictures like that, you're able to send stuff home, people are supporting you, they put it on the wall, it gives you a warm feeling inside that everybody's looking out for you too," Crawford added.
Crawford has a friend back home in owner Nick Mikus, who's been sending care packages overseas.
"I remember the next day we got a package from Mr. Nick," Crawford said. "Opened it up and was a bunch of cigars. And it was the end of the month too. And at the end of the month, we get the soldiers together and we go up to the rooftop in our command post, smoke a cigar and watch the helicopters fly off."
Mikus explained why he sends the cigars.
"Relaxation from the hectic unknown, he said. "It's camaraderie with the members of your unit. It's being able to understand there's a group of familly and friends stateside who appreciate what you're doing."
Mikus is taking up a collection at the restaurant to send more cigars and goodies to more soldiers overseas.
Crawford is now up for a promotion in rank to captain.
If you'd like to contribute to the effort, you can find Nick'S Ristorante on Bailey Cove Road.