CENTCOM Sends Thanksgiving Turkeys to Troops

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7 enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal featuring turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie in the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. Credit Cpl. Timothy Lenzo / U.S. Marine Corps photo.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7 enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal featuring turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie in the dining facility at Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012.
Credit Cpl. Timothy Lenzo / U.S. Marine Corps photo.

Currently, troops in Afghanistan must eat a prepackaged MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) for at least one of their three daily meals to use up supplies as the war winds down.

Even the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Marine Corps General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., is eating an MRE a day.

So the Thanksgiving turkey dinner will be a welcomed relief.

U.S. Central Command, based at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, has made certain the troops in Afghanistan will have that special meal according to Scott Anderson, Deputy Director of Logistics and Engineering for CENTCOM.

Anderson is in charge – on the civilian side – of making sure troops are properly supplied.

“The last I saw, we were nearing 100 percent ready for Thanksgiving. That means all the turkeys are there for our troops so they’re ready to have a Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving,” Anderson said. “And we’ll turn to and get ready for Christmas. There are some special meals that we make sure our troops are taken care of.”

Anderson served 30 years as a Marine Corps officer and knows how special a  turkey dinner can be to the tens of thousands of service members on the front lines.

A Day to be Thankful for the New York National Guard

Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade, the legendary “Harlem Hellfighters,” prepare holiday meals at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center for shipment and delivery to city distribution sites. (Photo by Col. Raymond Shields, New York National Guard)

The following is part of an article is written by Col. Richard Goldenberg of the
New York National Guard:

As Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1,100 members of the New York National Guard continue their support of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts or augment New York City
law enforcement at transportation centers for the single largest travel day in the nation.

Nearly 900 Guard Soldiers continue to support recovery operations in New York City, conducting door-to-door wellness checks in Far Rockaway. The National Guard, working in partnership with local authorities, visited more than 850 residences to assess local needs.

Other Soldiers will assist in the delivery of holiday meals to storm-affected families at 14 distribution centers as well as logistical support to city relief centers on Staten Island and Far Rockaway.

More than 250 other members of the New York National Guard’s standing security force in New York City, known as Joint Task Force Empire Shield, returned to their security duties this week after three weeks of rescue and storm recovery efforts.

New York has had National Guardsmen on duty full-time in New York City assisting with security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Proud Marine Mom’s Thanksgiving Wish

To all of our Marines, their families and all of our military – wherever you may be; our wish is that each of you can have the best Thanksgiving possible and that you know we are here in full support & appreciation of the sacrifices you make personally each day for all of us.

On behalf of our organization I would like to express our sincere “thankfulness” to each of you who continues to support us in all of our endeavors in helping our military men & women, their families, wounded warriors and our veterans.

Because of everyone’s support, dedication, love & devotion we have been able to accomplish and make a difference not only at home but far beyond.

We are committed to continue to grow, educate and promote those programs and projects that will best benefit our military,  veterans and their families.

We are truly & abundantly blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving   

Cyd Deathe
Tampa Area Marine Parents Assoc., Inc.
President – Executive Director
Proud Mom of OIF Wounded Warrior Veteran LCpl Adam, USMC 03-07

6 Reasons to be Thankful, Lessons from a First Deployment

Chris and Kim at Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina, after Chris returned from Afghanistan.

BY KIM VLACH

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for…

…My sweetheart and love-of-my-life Chris, a Captain in the U.S. Army, being back home safe and sound after his tour in Afghanistan over the summer.

I’m not that naïve to think that four months is a long time to be deployed. I know families get separated for much longer periods of time – and over multiple deployments.

But for me and for us, this was our first – and it was much harder than I had anticipated.

I digress. This post isn’t about how hard it was. This post is about how thankful I am for the lessons I learned.

    1. I am thankful for the friends and family who gave me their support while Chris was away. I’m especially grateful for getting to know Chris’s parents and sister much better – and getting the opportunity to get to know them on my own. I’m also very thankful for my neighbors (we’re new to this neighborhood) for checking in on me, helping me with the house, yard and dog and for inviting me over to their homes or out for dinner or to the movies.
    2. I am thankful for our puppy dog. Even though she drove me crazy at times – having her around sure helped me feel a lot less lonely.
    3. I am thankful for Skype. Being able to see Chris made an incredible difference compared to those days we could only use the phone.
    4. I am thankful for the U.S. Postal Service for getting all the goodies I sent to him as fast as possible so that they didn’t spoil.
    5. I am thankful for all the progress we made in how we communicate with each other. We were fortunate to be able to speak everyday, but not every conversation was fun. Sometimes we’d have to take care of household business. Sometimes our moods would provoke an argument. And sometimes – because of the stress or anxiety I was feeling – I’d be unable hold back my tears. Many people told me that I had to be strong for Chris, that it wasn’t fair to him to know that I was so sad, and that I shouldn’t distract him. But for us, we decided, hiding anything from each other wasn’t fair to our relationship. Chris told me that it wasn’t fair to me to have to pretend that everything was alright. As a couple, we had to be honest with what we were going through – and as a couple, we had to work together to get through this together.
    6. Last, but definitely not least, I am thankful for how close we’ve become. Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But in this case, because we had to dig deep down and rely on our own individual strength to get ourselves through each day, I believe, it allowed us to grow closer as a couple. That strength that we found in ourselves allowed us to open our hearts even more to each other – in ways I had never thought were available, both in myself and in him.

And that is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I wish you and your families a happy and blessed holiday.

Best Thanksgiving

Thank you, Lord, for the courage and selfless service of our military troops. Thank you for their dedication in the face of difficulties and challenges. Thank you for their families. I pray that all of our servicemen and women will experience Your mercy each day, and that You will provide for their every need. Let them feel your presence with them, and your everlasting love. In Christ’s name, Amen.

The prayer above was posted on one of my friend’s Facebook page today in honor of Thanksgiving as she spends yet another holiday without her husband who is deployed. Just seeing that makes me once again appreciate our Thanksgiving this year so much more – this year for us truly is the best Thanksgiving ever.

SMSgt Rex Temple talks to his family from Afghanistan via Skype on Thanksgiving 2009.

We have so many reasons to be thankful. First and foremost is the fact that my husband Rex made it through a year in Afghanistan. He served on more than 180 combat missions, came under fire often and saw things he had never seen despite his three previous deployments and 10 other overseas assignments. But now we know he will be retiring for sure come next year. No more deployments. No more fear. Because for me it’s the never ending fear for your loved one that is the hardest thing to cope with when the center of your entire universe deploys. Today I am thankful that for us that fear is now over.

***

The following was written in June 2009 while Rex was deployed but never published.

Waiting for a call or a knock on the door

My husband Rex left on his convoy mission yesterday about 12:30 am EST our time. I knew his team was headed into “the valley” and had enlisted some additional firepower from the Afghan National Army to help provide security for the two-day convoy.  He was hoping to be out of the valley before nightfall, providing no incidents or breakdowns.  Then he and his team would stay overnight at an outpost before returning the next day.

“It should be an interesting trip,” he wrote in his farewell e-mail as he hurried off to meet his teammates for this humanitarian aid convoy. In an earlier phone conversation he had told me in passing that he expected to be back on Thursday by lunchtime our time – and he would call me as soon as he got back.

I know the worry my husband and his fellow teammates have every time they leave the relative safety of their forward operating base. They know the enemy is out there determined to kill them.

I woke up Thursday morning exited about Rex getting back to his camp today and looking forward to his call. I checked my e-mail on my cell hoping for an early surprise; Internet had gone out the night before at my house due to a thunderstorm. Maybe his convoy was back early and he could send me an e-mail describing his two days away. He had been hoping to be the one tossing out candy to the Afghan children; he had even made a special trip to the camp’s store to get a few bags of candy so that he could pass the treats out at the villages he would visit on this trip.

But there was no e-mail so I went downstairs and got my two dogs Charlie and Sam ready for our morning trip to the dog park. At the last second I grabbed my laptop and decided to pass by Starbucks and check all the other e-mail addresses I had not yet bothered to program into my fancy new phone.

So a few minutes later in the Starbucks parking lot with a Venti Misto in the front seat cup holder and dog cookies keeping the “boyz” busy in the back seat, I logged into Twitter. In my favorites I have saved this address: http://twitter.com/usfora – the official Twitter site of the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. And the site’s latest tweet said: “Three coalition servicemembers killed in IED attack in Kapisa Province.”

My heart dropped. I know enough about my husband’s convoys to know that this is an area he has to travel through often. He has only been in Afghanistan for about a month – he took off from Tampa International on May 5th for this tour that is supposed to be his last tour of duty before retirement. And the first few weeks of his stay there have been bloody – by Rex’s calculations the units close to him have lost eight troops in just the last few days.

The next few hours are sheer agony. I have an idea how fast family notification happens. I know what to expect; Rex has prepared me for both injury notification and also should there be a death. I figure out how to get the Internet back working at our house and I research the news websites for the latest details.

Finally I can’t take it anymore and head to the gym. As I pound through 3 miles on the elliptical I constantly check my cell for incoming e-mails. Nothing. I move to the bike and peddle another 30 minutes. Still nothing. Feeling defeated I head back home – it’s still too early. “They could still notify me” keeps running through my mind.

I get home and check all the news wires again. There’s a bit more detail available but nothing that really eases my mind. I keep looking at the clock calculating what time the incident happened and how soon they would likely be able to get the family if something had happened. I realize that if I make it to 5 pm then probably everything is OK. Because by then they would have already gotten a hold of me – whether it was an injury or something worse.

As the clock ticks closer to 5 I feel claustrophobic stuck in the house as I jump every time I hear the phone ring – and especially when I hear a car door slam outside our house. I say a quick prayer: “Let it not be the notification team. “

So I finally can’t take it anymore and take my husband’s car to the mall to go pick up my engagement and wedding rings, which have been fixed – some of the stones had come loose. Sitting in my husband’s vehicle I feel like his car represents his arms wrapped around me but I feel a massive need to be able to wear my rings. And hour later those two pieces of jewelry are back on my ring finger and I all of a sudden finally feel calm. And I calmly settle in for the wait to hear from him – however long it takes.

Rex finally e-mails home Friday morning. He is safe but four others who were on the same mission have died.

I need to take a deep breath and write a supporting e-mail back not showing my fear. I need to hide my fears and only show my love and support so my husband can keep going for the 40+ more weeks he still has to serve out there in the middle of the enemy’s roadside bombs and ambushes to complete his last tour before retirement. The end of this deployment cannot come soon enough.

****

So on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for all the others who are still out there fighting the fight and keeping us safe. And I am thankful for all the families who support their deployed troops.

I am thankful for those who served bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice. My thoughts are with their families as they sit down on this Thanksgiving with an empty seat at their table. My heart aches for their loss and I am thankful for their service.

I am thankful for my husband Rex and his service of almost 28 years in the U.S. Air Force. I am thankful he is home with us – now and forever.

%d bloggers like this: