Westphal, Austin visit, thank troops in southern Afghanistan Thanksgiving Day
By Sgt. Ashley CurtisNovember 22, 2012
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Nov. 22, 0212) -- Instead of spending the holidays with loved ones and enjoying time off, holidays for those serving in Afghanistan mean business as usual. The mission to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan doesn't take a holiday, and neither does the enemy.
Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III spent this Thanksgiving visiting service members across the southern region of Afghanistan to share in their home-away-from-home holiday experience.
"We're delighted to be here," Austin told a gathering of Soldiers at Combat Outpost Zangabad. "It's truly is an honor. Thank you on behalf of the United States and the Afghan people of the region. We are grateful for your sacrifice and the sacrifices of your families as well."
Westphal commended the Soldiers for their part in keeping the United States a free and peaceful nation and noted the importance of their role in stabilizing Afghanistan.
"We want to make sure tyrants don't have the way ahead," he said. "That's why you're here."
The senior Army officials crossed Regional Command (South) to visit six locations, starting with the Warrior Recovery Center on Kandahar Airfield. The WRC treats and rehabilitates the region's injured service members before they can head back to their units in the field.
Following the WRC visit, the group stopped at several forward operating bases and combat outposts to serve and share Thanksgiving feasts with Soldiers. Several service members were also re-enlisted, promoted or given awards by the distinguished visitors.
"What's remarked about these leaders who've been promoted today, is that they were in the seventh grade when this war started," he said while emphasizing the courage and ever-evolving capacity of the force.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Muzychka, from Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, expressed his gratitude for being able to reenlist on this special occasion with his brothers-in-arms.
"I'm very thankful for the people I work with," he said. "I'm very thankful to have the best job in the world, in the United States Army."
The smiles on the Soldiers' faces and feelings of brotherhood filling each chow hall made the atmosphere feel almost, but not quite, like home.