GATESVILLE, Texas -- Soldiers currently training on North Fort Hood took a break from operations Dec. 17 to attend a special holiday event provided by people from the local community.
Members of the 518th Sustainment Brigade, an Army Reserve unit from Knightdale, North Carolina, were invited to the Peacock River Ranch here to enjoy some down time while away from home during the holidays.
"These Soldiers are training during Christmas at North Fort Hood," said Lisa Daschofsky, part owner of PRR and a native of Gatesville. "We want to make sure they get a real Christmas somewhere."
The Soldiers, who are training for an upcoming deployment, must undergo a series of exercises administered by the 120th Infantry Brigade, the unit that will prepare and certify them for their specific mission.
"Things like this are a great morale booster for us," said Sgt. Carlos Hernandez, a mechanic with the 518th SB who is originally from Brownsville, Texas. "It's nice to get a break like this away from training."
Peacock River Ranch is located a few miles from North Fort Hood and is a popular venue for weddings and other social gatherings. A large hall on the property housed the main feature of the event: a Texas barbecue lunch. Soldiers feasted on brisket, sausage, potato salad and a variety of drinks and desserts.
"I'm really impressed and thankful we were invited here," said Maj. Larissa Coon, a staff member with the 3rd Brigade, 75th Southern Division Training Command, who is originally from Oklahoma City. "All this food, and the desserts are absolutely amazing."
After the meal, Soldiers were encouraged to explore the sprawling property where they could feed longhorn cattle, play horseshoes or relax by the large outdoor fireplace near the hall. They were also treated to a mini concert of Christmas songs performed by the Gatesville High School choir.
The event was staffed by local volunteers who prepared the meal, ran the serving line and ensured that all the visitors had a place to sit and relax.
"This is a day that a small town like Gatesville gets to give back just a small portion of what the rest of the nation would like to do," said Kyle Powell, a local resident and volunteer at the event. "Today I can look these Soldiers in the eye and say, 'Thank you for what you've done in the defense of this country.'"