U.S. service members deployed overseas, including some caught in the middle of combat zones, were able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of the 95,000 pounds of turkey, ham, and beef delivered by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).
The DLA, a Pentagon service agency tasked with ensuring U.S. troops get a taste of home during the holidays, revealed that the 9,800 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan alone received more than 15,000 pounds of turkey and nearly 2,000 pies in time for their holiday meals.
“Being away from home and their families during the holidays is tough enough without considering the difficult and dangerous conditions our service men and women face,” Anthony Amendolia, with DLA Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain, said in a statement. “Since they can’t be home for the holidays, our employees are dedicated to bringing the holidays to them.”
Another 37,000 pounds of Turkey were sent to U.S. troops in Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait.
In total, DLA Troop Support flew 51,699 pounds of turkey to American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait.
Those service members also received:
- 25,970 pounds of beef
- 17,130 pounds of ham
- 706 gallons of eggnog
- 3,360 pounds of marshmallows
In addition, 500 cakes, and “lots of stuffing, nuts, gravy, marshmallows, and other goodies,” have been sent their way, William King, logistics management specialist at the U.S. Army, said in a statement.
DLA employees began gathering holiday meal requirements from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps in May to ensure that they could order and deliver the food in time.
“Whether they’re on a remote base in Afghanistan or aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean, we take pride in ensuring our service members have a taste of home for the holidays,” declared Amendolia.
This year, DLA employees had to work around the restrictions on American poultry products put in place by foreign countries in response to the avian flu outbreak in the U.S.
“Countries set different parameters causing us to take atypical approaches to meet all needs, such as buying from foreign approved sources and use of more pre-cooked poultry,” noted Amendolia.
American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Kuwait are serving under the leadership of U.S. Central Command (Centcom), which overseas the U.S.-led bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
On this Thanksgiving Day, an estimated 35,000 Americans are keeping the U.S. safe by serving in the 20 countries in the Middle East region that make up Centcom’s area of responsibility, according to Pentagon figures recently obtained by Time.
Of those, about 3,200 are in Iraq and an estimated 10,000 in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. doesn’t break down numbers of military personnel in many countries in the Middle East due to host nation sensitivities,” notes Time.
In a statement from the U.S. Army, Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey provided an estimate for the number of soldiers who will be deployed over Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays.
He revealed that “some 190,000 Soldiers are serving in 90 countries, keeping America safe.” That figure only includes members of the Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military.
“It’s a tough time to be away from your family, no doubt about it,” reportedly said Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, while visiting soldiers at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on Nov. 24. “It’s hard to be away from your loved ones, but take care of each other and look out for each other during this time.”
In the U.S., 12 of the dining halls at the sprawling Army post in Fort Bragg, North Carolina have been serving Thanksgiving meals since Wednesday, reports Fox News.
“Fort Bragg’s cooks have prepared 2,500 pounds of whole turkeys, 2,400 pounds of prime rib beef, 2,600 pounds of smoked ham, 1,400 pounds of shrimp and 3,000 pies,” notes the report.