FORWARD OPERATING BASE RAMROD, Afghanistan - Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, International Security Assistance Force command sergeant major, shared Thanksgiving with U.S. Army troops on a small patrol base in western Panjwa'i, Afghanistan.

The visit was a surprise for Soldiers of Company A, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

"It's pretty cool," said Spc. Jeremy B. Crawford, senior line medic for Company A and a Johnson City, Texas, native. "We were just going to eat a couple of turkeys we bought in the bazaar."

Soldiers enjoyed stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy - a change of pace from a month's worth of Meals-Ready-To-Eat, prepackaged combat meals.

The company's patrol base is a small house-like compound that was taken over from Taliban when they entered the area. There are no showers, electricity or toilets.
Hill flew in on a Black Hawk helicopter and presented several outstanding members of Company A with coins of excellence before sitting down to eat some Thanksgiving dinner with his ISAF Soldiers.

"It shows he cares," said Crawford. "He could be having Thanksgiving anywhere, but he decided to come down and eat what we eat."

The 1st Battalion Soldiers, also known as the Leader Rakkasans, and the ISAF command sergeant major sat around in a circle, propped up on cardboard food boxes, and said what they were thankful for.

For Hill, he said that at home the most important things in his life are his mother and wife, but while deployed the things he is most thankful for are his Soldiers.

"Out here you all are the most important thing in my life right now," Hill said to the troops sitting in the circle with him. "The people to my left and right are the people I depend on for my life and the same goes for you all."

He said during holidays Soldiers' fondest memories revolve around family. As time goes by, Soldiers find out their closest family are the ones they share their hardships, joys and pain with.

"This is my first Thanksgiving away from home," said Pfc. Joseph T. Bardales, medic for Company A. "It's a little different being away from my family, but this is pretty much the only other family I've got. You lose one family and you gain another," said the Palm City, Fla., native.