Warriors enjoy Thanksgiving on small outpost

| December 9, 2010 | 0 Comments
Pfc. Gary Myers, Battery A, 2nd Bn., 11th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, serves up a slice of prime rib to an Iraqi soldier during a Thanksgiving dinner, Nov. 25, at the Samarra Joint Coordination Center.

Pfc. Gary Myers, Battery A, 2nd Bn., 11th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, serves up a slice of prime rib to an Iraqi soldier during a Thanksgiving dinner, Nov. 25, at the Samarra Joint Coordination Center.

Story and Photo by
Sgt. Shawn Miller
109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

 

SAMARRA, Iraq — Dozens of Soldiers sat at decorated tables, enjoying plates piled high with freshly cooked turkey, potatoes and all the traditional side dishes and desserts.

Were it not for the barbed-wire topped blast walls or the weapons laying at the feet of the Soldiers in a remote outpost in Iraq, here, this Thanksgiving scene would be normal.

Soldiers of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, received the holiday treat at the Samarra Joint Coordination Center, as their battalion and brigade leaders paid a visit, Nov. 25, to serve a Thanksgiving feast.

“It feels like Thanksgiving here; it really does,” said Spc. Omar Franco, Battery A, 2nd Bn., 11th FA Regt., 2nd BCT. “It means a lot to have the sergeant majors and the higher headquarters officers come out here and show their appreciation for the Soldiers.

“It’s a little bit different,” he said. “There’s no family around, but I have my platoon that I work with everyday.”

As the Soldiers enjoyed a relaxed day, they made calls to loved ones and took the opportunity to break out a football and play a game of catch, as a way of preserving holiday traditions. For the Soldiers on this outpost, barely larger than a football field itself, the downtime spent with friends was a welcome respite from the daily tasks of conducting operations.

2nd Lt. Michael Gardner, Battery A, 2nd Bn., 11th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, platoon leader, said that living and working in the confined space really allows Soldiers to build camaraderie and appreciate the bond between themselves. Even holiday care packages from home are shared, he added, helping ease any stress.

“This is probably one of the best Thanksgivings I’ve been involved with,” Gardner said.

Capt. Brian Dieffenbach, commander, Battery A, 2nd Bn., 11th FA Regt., 2nd BCT, said he is thankful to spend the time with his Soldiers.

“Being with your family is probably the best tradition, and here, the best family we have to offer is the guys we’re serving with,” Dieffenbach said, adding that holiday meals have come a long way since the cold turkey patties and powdered potatoes of previous deployments.

The smell of roast turkey, stuffing and baked apple pie lured Soldiers toward the small cafeteria, as Dieffenbach and other senior leadership welcomed them in to take part in the feast.

“I eat pumpkin pie every year for Thanksgiving back home,” Franco said. “I made sure to grab a slice.”

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, and being thankful for one’s blessings, U.S. leaders decided to extend an invitation to their local Iraqi security forces counterparts and government officials to take part in the celebration and introduce what the holiday means.

“I think that Thanksgiving here is truly unique because of the facility we are at,” Dieffenbach said. “It’s an Iraqi-U.S. base that’s all coming together for a unique American holiday.”

“We work with these guys almost on a daily basis,” Gardner said. “This is another opportunity for us to show them one of our traditions.”

Though they did not work off dinner with a post-dinner game of football, the Iraqis experienced a small part of Thanksgiving rituals, as U.S. leaders gave them an overview of the holiday and its history.

“Other than the food, I hope they had the opportunity to get a good feel for what Thanksgiving means to the American Soldier,” Gardner said.

Of the three Thanksgivings he has spent in Iraq, Dieffenbach said that this one will be especially memorable.

“This will probably be the most special for me, because it’s with the guys I’m responsible for and the guys I lead on a daily basis,” he said. “I get to sit there and tell them ‘thank you.’”

 

Tags: , , ,

Category: Deployed Forces, News, Observances

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *