CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - The line into the Pegasus Dining Facility was longer than usual at lunchtime on Thanksgiving Day this year. Soldiers waited patiently for what might be the finest meal they eat during their deployment here.

While Soldiers were unable to eat with their families back home, many seemed to find comfort in dining with their fellow Soldiers.

New York native, Pfc. Denis Anton, a personnel administrative clerk with the 401st Military Police Company, 92nd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, arrived early with two friends to be the first people into the DFAC for the meal.

He said they often just grab a to-go box for lunch, but for Thanksgiving they wanted to sit down and eat together. In the absence of his family at home, those he lives and works with have become more like family than just coworkers, Anton said.

When the DFAC opened at 11 a.m., Soldiers were served everything from ham to sweet potato casserole, by 'First Team' officers and senior noncommissioned officers, many wearing their Stetsons to the event.

Soldiers, such as Anaheim, Calif. native, Spc. Marcos Luevanos, a cavalry scout with the 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, seemed to leave the dining facility having had a positive Thanksgiving Day experience. The meal was an opportunity for him and his friends to eat good food, relax and joke around, said Marcos.

While nothing can match eating Thanksgiving dinner at home with his family, the food was tasty, the line did not take too long and it was nice to eat with his Soldiers, said Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Encinas, an intelligence cell NCO in-charge with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

For Encinas, a Naco, Ariz., native, eating Thanksgiving dinner with other Soldiers was actually a taste of home.

"The Soldiers I ate my meal with today were single, and I would have invited them to eat Thanksgiving dinner at my home if we were at Fort Hood," he said. "The Army is supposed to be like family. It was eating Thanksgiving dinner with my second family."