Competition and tradition were in full effect Nov. 26 as culinary specialists in 10th Combat Aviation Brigade's Freedom Fighter's Cafe competed for the title of Best Dining Facility.
Soldiers and family members could be seen packing the lines while leaders took their places as servers. On the menu was everything from roasted turkey, to baked mac-and-cheese, stuffing, and cornbread.
After Soldiers loaded their plates and made their way to the seating area, they were greeted by oldies music and funky dressed characters. The theme in this particular dining facility was "Back to the 80s."
Sgt. 1st Class Jennizor Poblete, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade's Dining Facility Manager, said picking the theme was a majority decision.
"If you have a majority agreeing on what you're going to be, then everyone is going to put a lot more effort into it," said Poblete.
Not only must the dining facilities have the best food, but they must also have the most creative theme.
"It's a lot of pressure," said Poblete. "You can put out the best meal, but if there aren't any decorations out there you won't stick out from the rest of the dining facilities."
Regardless of the competition, the heart of this annual tradition is for the Soldiers who are away from their families during the holidays. This is highlighted by leaders putting on their Army Service Uniforms and serving Soldiers as a way to thank them for what they do.
"This is one of the biggest events for us," said Poblete. "So knowing that the command group will be here to serve the Soldiers, for me, I take pride in that."
As Maj. Gen. Brian Mennes, 10th Mountain Division (LI) commanding general, and other members of the command group made their way through Freedom Fighter's Cafe, they wanted to take the time to highlight a particular 10th CAB Soldier.
Mennes presented Staff Sgt. Jessie Fortes, a Soldier with Alpha Company, 277 Aviation Support Battalion, 10th CAB, an Army Commendation Medal for his heroism while apprehending an individual that was in progress of committing a crime off-post.
"It was around 5 a.m. Tuesday- four weeks ago today actually- when I heard noises outside of my house. It sounded like people breaking into cars," said Poblete. "I went outside to confront them when they took off."
One particular individual came back and threatened Fortes, which led to a struggle.
"I grabbed him and took him to the ground when I saw a knife," said Fortes. "He stabbed me in the process of getting the knife away."
After disarming the individual, Fortes held him until the authorities arrived.
After the completion of the short ceremony, Fortes went inside to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with his Soldiers.
"I am grateful for the award, but I wasn't expecting anything," said Fortes. "I would hope that someone in the same position would do the same thing."