• Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III spend time with troops at Combat Outpost Zangabad, Afghanistan, during a Thanksgiving visit, Nov. 22, 2012.  The Army officials visited the base and several others to show Soldiers their appreciation.

    Senior Army officials visit deployed troops Thanksgiving Day

    Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III spend time with troops at Combat Outpost Zangabad, Afghanistan, during a Thanksgiving visit, Nov. 22, 2012. The Army officials visited the base and...

  • Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal presents a coin to Soldier from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, during a Thanksgiving visit to Combat Outpost Zangabad, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army visited the base and several others to show Soldiers their appreciation.

    Senior Army officials visit deployed troops Thanksgiving Day

    Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal presents a coin to Soldier from the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, during a Thanksgiving visit to Combat Outpost Zangabad, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff...

  • Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal (right-center) listens to Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, during Thanksgiving dinner, Nov. 22, 2012. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army visited the base and several others to show Soldiers their appreciation.

    Senior Army officials visit deployed troops Thanksgiving Day

    Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal (right-center) listens to Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, during Thanksgiving dinner, Nov. 22, 2012. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army visited the base and several others to...

  • Staff Sgt. Brian Starrs of A Company, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is promoted by Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III during a Thanksgiving visit to Combat Outpost Sanjeray, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012.  The Army officials visited the base and several others to show Soldiers their appreciation.

    Senior Army officials visit deployed troops Thanksgiving Day

    Staff Sgt. Brian Starrs of A Company, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is promoted by Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III during a...

  • Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal (center) chats with Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson (Left), Regional Command (South) and Third Infantry Division command sergeant major, during a Thanksgiving visit at Combat Outpost Siah Choy, Afghanistan, Nov. 22, 2012.  Westphal visited the base and several others with the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army to show Soldiers their appreciation.

    Senior Army officials visit deployed troops Thanksgiving Day

    Undersecretary Army Joseph W. Westphal (center) chats with Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson (Left), Regional Command (South) and Third Infantry Division command sergeant major, during a Thanksgiving visit at Combat Outpost Siah Choy, Afghanistan, Nov. 22...

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Nov. 22, 0212) -- Instead of spending the holidays with loved ones and enjoying time off, holidays for those serving in Afghanistan mean business as usual. The mission to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan doesn't take a holiday, and neither does the enemy.

Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III spent this Thanksgiving visiting service members across the southern region of Afghanistan to share in their home-away-from-home holiday experience.

"We're delighted to be here," Austin told a gathering of Soldiers at Combat Outpost Zangabad. "It's truly is an honor. Thank you on behalf of the United States and the Afghan people of the region. We are grateful for your sacrifice and the sacrifices of your families as well."

Westphal commended the Soldiers for their part in keeping the United States a free and peaceful nation and noted the importance of their role in stabilizing Afghanistan.

"We want to make sure tyrants don't have the way ahead," he said. "That's why you're here."

The senior Army officials crossed Regional Command (South) to visit six locations, starting with the Warrior Recovery Center on Kandahar Airfield. The WRC treats and rehabilitates the region's injured service members before they can head back to their units in the field.

Following the WRC visit, the group stopped at several forward operating bases and combat outposts to serve and share Thanksgiving feasts with Soldiers. Several service members were also re-enlisted, promoted or given awards by the distinguished visitors.

"What's remarked about these leaders who've been promoted today, is that they were in the seventh grade when this war started," he said while emphasizing the courage and ever-evolving capacity of the force.

Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Muzychka, from Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, expressed his gratitude for being able to reenlist on this special occasion with his brothers-in-arms.

"I'm very thankful for the people I work with," he said. "I'm very thankful to have the best job in the world, in the United States Army."

The smiles on the Soldiers' faces and feelings of brotherhood filling each chow hall made the atmosphere feel almost, but not quite, like home.

Page last updated Tue March 12th, 2013 at 13:01