By Chelsea Place Pentagram Staff WriterDecember 5, 2011
Being in the military doesn't always allow servicemembers to return home for Thanksgiving. In honor of those who have nowhere to go or can't make it home for the holidays, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall dining facility offered a special meal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the holiday.
"It's nice because there are a lot of guys that can't go home, or have anywhere to go. They can come here with their buddies and have a decent meal," said Spc. Raymond Piron, Delta Co. (The Old Guard).
Guest servers included Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commander of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington, Col. Carl R. Coffman, commander of JBM-HH and and joint base Command Sgt. Maj. Necati Akpinar.
"It's a good feeling when the command comes in and recognizes not only the troops, showing them thanks, but also all the [dining facility] staff members who work hard and sacrifice their Thanksgiving day to come into work," said Marine Corps retiree Thomas Yusaitis, dining facility project manager.
What takes two months for the dining facility to prepare for, only took a week to thaw, cook, plate and serve.
Rodney Taylor the JBM-HH installation food program manager explained that the workers came in shifts starting the night prior to Thanksgiving to prepare the meal. He explained that 500 is an average daily count for the dining facility, but due to the nature of the meal, greater preparation is required.
"A lot of that is the civilians and retirees that come in," said Yusaitis.
Upon entering the dining facility, guests followed the line around starting with shrimp cocktail and moving on to the main course meats and sauces. The vegetables, desserts and drinks were available on self-serve islands in the middle of the food serving area.
"We've been coming here for years with my Family. It's tradition now," said Joanne Pearson whose dad, Patrick Pearson is a Navy retiree. "We love it."
Even those who never experienced the dining facility before found the experience good.
"It's tremendous, the support for the troops and people here. To take his time on Thanksgiving, it's incredible," said Jeff Reed in reference to the command group who helped serve dinner.
By the end of the day a few hundred servicemembers, retirees, Family members and guests came to the dining facility for the special lunch.
"It was great to come out here and show support for our servicemembers," said Coffman. "They work hard all year and deserve recognition."