Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Giving Thanks in the Desert

Thanksgiving was memorable this year. No one will forget the efforts of our cooks and KBR to make the most of what resources they have, nor the sight of their leaders serving them food in the mess hall. We won't forget that the experience was nothing like the ones to which we've become accustomed with our families around tables with home cooking and all the nice smells that permeate into every room of the house. Perhaps next year, if we have the opportunity to be home for one of these traditional Thanksgivings, we will recall unique elements of this years' celebration--the sand blowing outside; the long, impersonal tables reminiscent of school cafeterias; the food that looked special but somehow tasted like it does every other day; and of course, we will remember each other.

About the meal: we had cherry, pumpkin, and sweet potato pies; beef tenderloin, sliced ham, sliced turkey, and crab legs; mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, mixed vegetables, and stuffing. The food we have here in theater--although not bad--is not great either, especially after a year of the same things over-and-over. The problem with sharing this (after mentioning things like beef tenderloin, crab legs, and pumpkin pie) is that we can sound so ungrateful--and perhaps we are. Just last night I was visiting with soldiers in the mess hall and I asked them what it is they are most looking forward to when they get back to the States (after hugs and kisses from their families, of course). Their answers included: authentic Mexican food, General Tso's Chicken (my favorite Chinese dish), homemade bread, International House of Pancakes, and I mentioned the Cold Stone Creamery. So, the food on Thanksgiving was good--just nothing like the quality of things back home. I had the opportunity to join our battalion's commander, command sergeant major, and executive officer in serving Thanksgiving dinner to our soldiers. It was much more fun that I imagined it would be. I was able to see at least 200 soldiers in that hour of time; I got to serve the meat.

Country music star, Aaron Tippin visited our FOB on Thanksgiving Day. He visited our building, talked with the soldiers, signed autographs, and then later that night gave a free concert over in the large gym on the other side of the FOB. He was very personable; the soldiers really enjoyed him. Below is a picture of SGT Lee with him.

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