By Spc. Elizabeth WhiteNovember 21, 2017
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- What defines a holiday? The time spent with families, the happiness of the season and, undoubtedly, the meals.
For the Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, currently deployed to Afghanistan, their 2017 Thanksgiving will give them a new take on what the holidays mean during their nine-month tour.
A quintessential part of Thanksgiving is the turkey dinner, and for deployed Soldiers, a traditional Thanksgiving meal can be an important morale booster. Soldiers with the Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade Class One shop are in charge of making sure that Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan can have their holiday dinner.
"Thanksgiving food was ordered four months in advance," said Chief Warrant Officer Three Yessenia Johnson, the food advisor support operations chief for 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade. "The intent of the chain of command is to ensure every single Soldier gets turkey."
The 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade food service section is responsible for placing orders for rations and tracking them until delivery is complete throughout the entire Combined Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan. Partnering with the Defense Logistics Agency, the food service section manage items such as water, prime vendor items such as meats, potatoes and canned goods; operational rations such as MRE's, and health and comfort packets.
Food is ordered and shipped to Bagram Airfield from the United States, where it will take 120 days to arrive in country. Once it arrives at the airfield, it is then taken off-post to be stored in a warehouse, until orders are placed from dining facilities for the items.
The Class One warehouse on BAF acts as the go-between for the off-post warehouse and austere bases. Orders will come through the Class One yard, be sent to the warehouse until it is ordered, and then sent back to the yard, where it is shipped via air or ground to the bases.
"The Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade deals with Defense Logistics Agency and is a direct link to customers in the Combined Joint Operations Area - Afghanistan," said Johnson. "DLA has 38 direct customers and we help with 12 sites that they can't get to."
Once the items are received by the customers, the items are checked for quality and stored in rations rooms. The menus for the various dining facilities will determine what food is taken out of storage.
Walking around the Class One warehouse, you can see the holiday menu items ready to be shipped to the facilities on BAF. They even have special cases of sparkling grape juice wrapped and ready to go for the Thanksgiving dinners.
Despite being away from their families during the holidays, Soldiers are able to remain positive.
"I view everyone here as a part of my family," said Spc. Damirra Palacious, an operations specialist with the 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade. "It's sad to be apart from the family but this is our job. We chose to be part of something."