Fort Bragg families enjoy early Thanksgiving meal

Posted November 24, 2015 1:43 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2015 6:13 p.m. EST

— Soldiers and their families at Fort Bragg were being treated to a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings starting Tuesday. Over the course of the holiday weekend, hundreds of meals will be served on post to those who serve our country throughout the year.

Golden roasted turkeys, baked ham, lots of stuffing and cut sweet potatoes piled the plates for those who couldn't make it to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with family.

Spec. Andres Sanchez was among those taking part.

"A lot of soldiers don't get to go home for Thanksgiving. I'm one of them. So it's kind of special to be able to have a meal like this at Thanksgiving time," he said.

It's also a chance for the officers to don their dress blues and serve the enlisted men who serve them year-round.

That made the meal even more special for PFC Lima Wylen. "I think it's nice to have. With the officers serving us and the higher-ups serving us, it makes it a lot more special," she said.

In addition to the traditional holiday celebration, units compete to demonstrate which has the best dining facility on post. Soldiers show their skill in food preparation, decoration of the hall and in service.

At the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and Division Artillery dining facility, diners entered through smoke and combat netting to be greeted by a meal fit for a king.

"We have displays in here from all over the world," said CW2 Jason Page. "We have appetizers that we're doing from each continent to kind of showcase the things that our chefs can do back there."

At the 2nd Brigade facility, the spread included a cornucopia, ice scutpures and roaming servers who delivered sliced meats to enlisted men and women at their table.

PFC Michael Zapata said his unit was especially motivated for this year's competition after having claimed the title in 2014.

"We're always trying to compete with them to try to be the best," he said.

Sgt. Nadine Camille, from Haiti, will celebrate twice. On Tuesday, she ate with colleagues and on Thursday she'll cook at home to mark her child's first birthday.

"It's going to be friend turkey, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and, on my side of the family, it's going to be griot like fried pork," she said.

For many of the Army cooks, serving their fellows is a labor of love.

"We've been here for countless hours just to make sure that the soldiers get fed and they're happy prior to Thanksgiving," said Sgt. Angel Lewis. "This is our Thanksgiving to them."