Pumpkin Patch
One-year-old Beauden Delaney chooses a free pumpkin to take home during the Fall Festival at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 16. The festival was held in conjunction with the U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood Chaplains Office-sponsored Togetherness Day and free meals provided by the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - Thousands of free meals were served by the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation to the Soldiers and families at the Phantom Warrior Center here, Oct. 16, as a way to say “thank you” for all the military family does for the country.

“We do it for one reason, that’s to tell the Soldiers thank you,” Charles Norris, co-founder of the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation, said. “Enough people don’t tell them thank you and they certainly don’t tell their spouses and families thank you.”

Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports military families, both active and veterans, that was started 12 years ago by Norris and co-founder Greg Liles. They provide an authentic chuck wagon barbecue experience, cooking food over open fire and wood-burning stoves. During Saturday’s event, Soldiers and families were served brisket, ribs, burgers, brats, carne asada, chicken fried steak and more.

“It’s interesting, but I like it,” Spc. Dahnia Smith, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, who is originally from Jamaica, said about the event. “I like to see how they do the cooking. It reminds me of back home.”

Fort Hood’s senior leaders also enjoyed the event, as they sampled a little bit of everything. Maj. Gen. Michael Keating, deputy commander for support (U.K.), was happy to experience an authentic Texas experience while he is serving at Fort Hood.

Cooking up carne asada
Kevin Smith, a volunteer from Denton, Texas, stirs carne asada, which was one of the menu items served by the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation to troops and their families at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 16. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“This right here is everything that’s good and great about Texas from III Corps and Fort Hood – community, generosity, friendship and lots of food,” Keating said, thanking Cowboys 4 Heroes for their generosity to Fort Hood families.

Maj. Gen. Steven Gilland, deputy commander for maneuver, said the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation showed volunteerism and selfless service by thanking service members and their families for what they do, and in turn, deserve a big “thank you” from Fort Hood.

“The service that these folks are providing out of the goodness of their heart is just amazing,” Gilland said about the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation. “What they have done out of the kindness of their hearts, and their time, and to do what they’re doing with this food, is pretty dang neat.”

After filling up on food, people strolled through the Fort Hood Fall Festival, sponsored by Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation, and Togetherness Day, sponsored by the Fort Hood Garrison Chaplain’s Office, which featured dozens of activities for the young and young at heart to enjoy. Chaplain (Col.) Darren Chester, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood chaplain, credited Ladonna White, a gospel congregation member, for the idea of Togetherness Day as a way of bringing the Fort Hood community together.

“Volunteers from the congregation contributed hundreds of hours of planning and preparation to make this happen,” Chester said. “Also, volunteers from nearly all of our chapel congregations as well, from many of our ministry partners in the community of Killeen gave huge amounts of time and energy to bring it all together. And this was the purpose of the event – to bring all our various groups providing religious support on post together to be a blessing to the community of Fort Hood.”

Fun and games
Corrie Reeter and her 3-year-old son, Freeland, play with a hula hoop during Togetherness Day activities at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 16. Thousands turned out for Fort Hood's Fall Festival, which included free meals provided by the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation in addition to Together Day activities. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

In the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel parking lot, arts and crafts, games and a host of other activities kept children and families busy, with fall crafts children could take home. They also had a large table with free books for people to take as many as they wanted.

“It brought me a lot of joy and happiness,” Chester added. “It was a lot of fun to see folks enjoying the great fall weather and fun.”

Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood, said the event was successful because of the strong partnerships involved in the joint event.

“This was a tremendous day with great food and activities for the Soldiers and families of our installation,” Foster said. “We were able to bring together three separate events into one big, fun morning – the Fall Festival, Togetherness Day and the Cowboys 4 Heroes. Our volunteers, DFMWR staff, chaplains, and the great folks from the Cowboys 4 Heroes Foundation made all of this possible. Thanks to them all!”