Written by By Meredith Berg, CNN
Three US soldiers and an entire staff assembled in a Phoenix kitchen to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for a pair of Afghan soldiers.
It might sound like a custom you’d only see in the movies, but it’s actually becoming a reality at the US Army’s Fort Bliss, which has set up this event to allow troops deployed overseas a chance to celebrate the holiday with their families.
After all, sometimes it’s hard to find a decent turkey in a war zone.
“We realize that a traditional Thanksgiving meal in some parts of the world, we haven’t taken for granted,” said Army Lt. Col. Catherine Gonzalez, commanding officer of Fort Bliss.
Fort Bliss culinary teams have prepared a number of meal options for troops deployed abroad, such as Vietnamese barbecue chicken wings, Mexican street corn, Vietnamese pork belly and noodles. The meals are served to men and women with families at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Phoenix.
“It’s really important that we do this, that our teams out here see what Thanksgiving is really like for our soldiers,” Gonzalez said.
Each year, one of these servicemen and women is flown in to join his or her family for the Thanksgiving meal.
The Alabama National Guard had nearly 600 people attend its Thanksgiving dinner in the US embassy in Afghanistan, Sgt. Sara Hudgins told CNN. Nearly 250 were US soldiers who serve in the military’s Combined Security Transition Command (CTTC).
Watch the Thanksgiving surprise video:
‘Yahoo!’ – Photos, stories of Turkey Day surprise for soldiers in Afghanistan “A lot of folks have told me they didn’t think they were going to be able to come to Turkey Day after they left because of transportation issues, and by the time they got through that, they’d be burned out,” said Hudgins, who served in Afghanistan from August 2017 to August 2018 and returned to the US in November.
And this isn’t just an Army thing — the Air Force gives every officer serving with a detachment in Afghanistan the opportunity to eat the free meal, said Chief Master Sgt. Stan Hopkins.
Iraq’s Special Operations Command gives its support, too — about 300 airmen deployed with the command’s Combined Air and Land Component Coordination Cell Thanksgiving dinner, according to Capt. Rob Kurtz, a spokesman for the command.
Kurtz said that military decorations decorate each table, along with traditional turkey. To give a special touch, each table includes goose, veal and lamb roast.