By David VergunNovember 25, 2016
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- While Soldiers and their families are celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S., about 183,900 Soldiers are currently supporting combatant commanders worldwide.
Some 14,968 pounds of turkey and 8,712 pies, including sweet potato and pumpkin, have been delivered to troops in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Logistics Agency spokesman Mike Tuttle.
According to Tuttle, the grand total of turkey and fixings going to service members deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait included:
-- 34,760 pounds of turkey.
-- 32,550 pounds of beef.
-- 21,450 pounds of ham.
-- 28,980 pounds of shrimp.
-- 9,114 pounds of stuffing mix.
-- 879 gallons of eggnog.
"It is an honor to serve my country. But it is an even greater honor to serve my fellow service members an outstanding meal," said Warrant Officer Raul Lewis, a food service officer with the 1st Cavalry Division's Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, which organizes food support for service members in Afghanistan.
"There is nothing more comforting when you are far away from home and missing your loved ones than to sit in front of a hot meal and share a few laughs and moments of joy," Lewis added.
It takes a lot of planning to ensure food items are delivered in time so that service members can enjoy a taste of home for Thanksgiving, said Anthony Amendolia, who works with the DLA Troop Support's Subsistence supply chain in Philadelphia.
"Thanksgiving is so important to us and such a priority that we have to start in the April, May timeframe," Amendolia said. "It is a long process, but we think service members really enjoy having a great Thanksgiving meal with their troops."
The subsistence team worked with regional vendors to provide Thanksgiving food items to Navy ships at sea and to service members at the following locations: Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Korea, Okinawa, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and various locations in Europe and Africa.
DEPLOYED FOR THANKSGIVING
This Thanksgiving holiday, 183,900 Soldiers are deployed worldwide:
Some 8,000 Soldiers are serving in Afghanistan, as part of Operation Freedom Sentinel. That includes Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters, out of Fort Hood, Texas; the 36th Infantry Division (Texas Army National Guard); the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division; and 1,000 Army special operations forces.
About 4,000 Soldiers are supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, including the 1st Infantry Division headquarters; 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, along with special operations forces.
Approximately 10,000 Soldiers are serving in Kuwait and surrounding areas, participating in Operation Spartan Shield. They are from the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division; the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade; the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command; the 197th Fires Brigade; and the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Some 33,000 Soldiers are also scattered throughout Europe, where they are conducting theater security cooperation events in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. They are in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia and Germany. This week, units from U.S. Army Europe began participating in Operation Iron Sword in Lithuania.
About 9,000 Soldiers are supporting missions throughout Africa, including 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Florida Army National Guard).
Some 4,000 Soldiers are in the U.S. Southern Command area, where they are supporting humanitarian and training missions.
More than 71,000 Soldiers are supporting exercises and operations in the Pacific and in South Korea.
THANKSGIVING IS ABOUT FAMILY
On Nov. 12, Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal and his wife read the Thanksgiving storybook, "The Night Before Thanksgiving," to children at Yongsan Library, South Korea, during Thanksgiving Story Hour. About 50 children, accompanied by their parents, attended the event.
"Reading habits are extremely important in the age of childhood, and Thanksgiving stories can give a positive impression to children," Librarian Kim, Son-chul said.
When leaders of high rank become involved, he added, they set an example for children and personify the value of reading.
Following the event, a Thanksgiving lunch that included chopped turkey and a Thanksgiving Day cake was served.
COMMANDERS IN CHIEF WEIGH IN
President George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving a national celebration in 1789. President Abraham Lincoln also proclaimed Thanksgiving a national celebration in 1863, during the Civil War.
Lincoln said, "I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of Thanksgiving."
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "May we on Thanksgiving Day and on every day express our gratitude and zealously devote ourselves to our duties as individuals and as a nation. May each of us dedicate his utmost efforts to speeding the victory which will bring new opportunities for peace and brotherhood among men."