By Deb Skidmore, Fort Riley Public AffairsNovember 27, 2009
Fort Riley, Kan. - As the aroma of baked turkey floated across Cantigny Dining Facility, laughter and conversation could be heard in every corner of the room. Soldiers, their families and community members gathered for a day of celebration and fellowship on this Thanksgiving Day at Fort Riley.
Joining the military for a traditional Thanksgiving meal were First District Kansas Congressman Jerry Moran, his wife and daughters, and Clay Center Mayor Sharon Brown.
"My Family and I are honored to share a Thanksgiving meal with Fort Riley Soldiers, many of whom are away from their own Families," Moran said. "Our country has much to be thankful for."
Moran and Brown greeted Servicemembers and their Families and dined with Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, and his wife, Carol.
"It is important to us, all the time, to work relationships with the community,'' Brooks said. "Our door is open (at Fort Riley).''
"We have such supportive communities," the general added.
Brooks said events such as the Thanksgiving dinner let Fort Riley's community neighbors experience life with the military.
"They get to witness first-hand how we observe holidays for our Soldiers,'' he said. "This is a big deal for us."
According to Sgt. Maj. Juan Abreu, food service sergeant major, the Big Red One and Fort Riley wanted to celebrate the season and show appreciation to all 1st Infantry Division Soldiers and Family members.
Additionally, he said, this appreciation extends to Department of the Army civilians and community leaders who make up the Greater Fort Riley community.
"It is important for community members to see the family side to the military,'' said Carol Brooks, wife of Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
She added it also shows the Soldiers and Families how much they are appreciated.
Helping to prepare the spread laid before the hungry crowd was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Russell Campbell, the 1st Sustainment Brigade command food service tech.
"Thanksgiving is a special holiday that we take great pride in," Campbell said. "We strive to provide a quality meal for Soldiers and Families, who choose to share it with us. We want to ensure we leave a lasting memory, while we celebrate this great Army and American tradition."
Campbell said the food service staff do this through an array of food. He said the Cantigny Dining Facility prepared 520 pounds of turkey, 173 pounds of steamship roast, 170 pounds of prime rib, 152 pounds of ham, 60 pounds of duck and 150 pounds of shrimp. Additionally, 1,000 eggs were made into Deviled Eggs.
Candied yams, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole, salads and rolls rounded out the dinner. For dessert, patrons had pumpkin, apple, peach, blueberry, sweet potato, cherry, lemon meringue and chocolate cream pies to choose from. For those more tempted by the display of cakes, they could choose from banana cream, carrot, chocolate and spice.
"Our theme this year is, 'In Everything Give Thanks,'" Campbell said.
He explained the Sustainment command group and food service staff wanted to stay with a traditional dinner, but also highlight what they were thankful for.
"It is nice to allow the communities in to mingle with our Soldiers,'' said Warrant Officer 1 Docaser Richard, a command food service technician for 1st Sustainment Bde.
Richard said opening the doors for this Thanksgiving celebration shows Soldiers how much the communities support them.
Sustainment Bde. Commander, Col. Donnie Walker, reminded his Soldiers to "know that as American Families gather around their tables across the United States and around the world, they give thanks to you, the Soldiers of the great Division."
Walker also told the Soldiers to remember 'in everything give thanks' during this Thanksgiving holiday.
Clay Center Mayor Sharon Brown said attending this event meant everything to her.
"I have two grandsons in the military, and I can only hope wherever they are, the communities are reaching out to them," Brown said. "I can't expect it to work on their end if I don't support our military on this end."
Moran agreed, saying the event was a great opportunity to express gratitude for the service of the Soldiers and their Families.
"We are especially grateful for our troops and the sacrifices they make to defend our freedoms," Moran said.