By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Jackson)November 29, 2018
Army bellies have been filled across post and throughout the world for Thanksgiving, and the best dining facilities have been announced.
It was a bittersweet celebration for some Basic Combat Training Soldiers.
For many, it was "their first time away from home, their first holiday away from home," said Brig. Gen. Milford H. "Beags" Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander. It showed them "the Army is (their) new Family … (their) new team."
Roles were reversed for the day as leadership served trainees their meals.
DFACs fought for recognition in the best DFAC competition.
They were judged in four Army-wide categories: best decoration, best originality, best Thanksgiving theme, and best culinary display.
Winning in the category of best decoration was the 369th Adjutant General Battalion DFAC.
The award for originality went to the 120th Adjutant General Battalion DFAC.
Best Thanksgiving theme was awarded to the DFAC for the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment.
The best culinary display was set up by the DFAC for the 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.
Award-takers will be recognized at the next Quarterly Installation Awards Ceremony Feb. 22.
Eight competitors faced off at Fort Jackson this year for the competition Nov. 21-22.
"Dining facilities worldwide (geared) up to provide the feast of traditional turkey or ham with all the fixings," said Annie Morrall of the Logistics Readiness Center. "It is our Super Bowl in food service."
The purpose is to "create pride in the Army Food Program," Morrall said. It gives DFACs a chance to show off their culinary skills and professionalism, she added.
Carlos Morrison, director of Fort Jackson's LRC, said the goal is to bring Soldiers, Families, friends and the Fort Jackson community together.
A culinarily-astute crowd chose the best of the best from the bunch.
The judging panel included senior food service Subject Matter Experts from the 406th Army Field Sustainment Brigade.
Fort Jackson started preparing months in advance to have everything perfect in time for the big day, Morrall said.
Food was prepared for 19,100 troops, with enough extra to feed more than 25,000 people overall, she added.
The total headcount was 9,650 by the end of Thanksgiving day. That number included 45 retirees and 166 cash customers.
Included in the food stocks were 5,028 pounds of whole turkey.
The Army served 9,738 whole turkeys on Thanksgiving day across the world.
"In regards to serving our warfighters ... for a lot of them, it's their first time away from home, and all of our DFACs really outdo themselves," Morrall said.
The traditional menu was transported to U.S. troops stationed at every corner of the globe.
In total, 300,000 pounds of it were sent.
Of that, 16,284 pounds came from sweet potatoes alone; 3,838 pounds of them went to Fort Jackson.
There were 100,644 cakes and pies delivered to service members, with 2,014 served here.
Some countries' cultures barred the serving of select Thanksgiving foods to Soldiers, but the extensive menu ensured there was something for everyone.
A few of Fort Jackson's varied options included cranberries, mashed potatoes, dressing, assorted meats, seafood, salads and vegetables.