U.S. service members stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan may be far from home on this holiday, but more than 270 dining facilities will serve them Thanksgiving dinner in the war zones.
There are approximately 97,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and about 18,000 in Iraq, although hundreds of U.S. troops are leaving Iraq every day. State Department civilians in both countries also will partake of the traditional holiday meal being prepared by the military.
To feed those thousands of troops and Department of Defense civilians, the military has shipped:
- 168,000 lbs. of turkey
- 37,800 lbs. of stuffing
- 93,876 lbs. of beef
- 43,560 lbs. of sweet potatoes
- 24,000 lbs. of shrimp
- 34,560 pies
- 25,800 lbs. of cranberry sauce
"America’s military is a special group of heroic men and women who continually make sacrifices for our freedom," Navy Rear Adm. David Baucom, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support commander, said in an article posted on its website. "It is our duty and covenant to show our gratitude by providing them the very best our country has to offer for the holidays."
Also offering thanks to troops through their words were:
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted adviser to the chairman: "This year, we give special thanks to you in uniform who serve our nation. We are truly blessed by your service. ... America faces grave economic challenges, and we want you to know that we are working with our nation's leaders to address those challenges. We will remain the best military in the world, and we will keep faith with you, your families, and our veterans."
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta: "For the past 10 Thanksgivings, our nation has been at war. For 10 Thanksgivings, our troops have been deployed to the battle zones and around the world, defending our freedom and putting their lives on the line. We are thankful for your service and for your steadfast commitment to keeping all of us safe. Our thoughts and prayers will also be with your families, whose love, support and sacrifice are essential to your success. I know that this can be a difficult time for service members and their loved ones who must spend it apart from each other. To those deployed away from home, and to their families: You are making a real difference every day and keeping our country strong and safe."