JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Patients and staff were served smiles and thanks from leadership along with traditional holiday fare at Madigan Army Medical Center's Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 22.

It's a Madigan tradition for leadership to don their Army Service Uniforms and serve the Thanksgiving meal to all who come through the line.

"For me it means a great deal because having done this now seven times, at different assignments, it never loses its flavor for the people who are coming through the line. They are so incredibly grateful and thankful," said Col. Thomas Bundt, Madigan commander.

The Madigan Grille Dining Hall usually serves 400 to 450 diners each Thanksgiving, with weeks of prep going into the meal. Lt. Col. Julie Rylander, Nutrition Care Division chief, says it's a chance for her staff to show off their culinary skills and then enjoy the day with all of their guests.

"I think it's the atmosphere and the ambiance, and it's just a happy time to spend with family. The atmosphere is happy. One gentleman over here just said 'Oh I come here every year; this is my happy day, just enjoying the atmosphere,'" she said.

Brig. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, Regional Health Command-Pacific commanding general, joined in serving both the dining hall patrons and some of Madigan's newest mothers on the inpatient floors.

"It's profoundly meaningful to me to actually physically get out and serve, to serve on the line, to serve the trays and to enjoy the humanity that comes together in a wonderfully beautiful way during the holidays, during Thanksgiving and Christmas," LeMaster said. "It's genuinely uplifting."

Bundt echoed that sentiment.

"To me it's just a very humbling experience, and I'm just glad they let me join them," he said.