FORT LEE, Va. -- It was a very special holiday for soldiers at Fort Lee as per longstanding army tradition, officers, NCOs and the chain of command served the Thanksgiving meals in the dining halls.
For many of these young soldiers, it was their first Thanksgiving away from home. And, accordingly, they had no idea what would be served and who would be serving the meal.
"I didn't know it was going to be this good,” Pvt. Lauryn Squire said from the dining hall on the base.
Waiting inside were the Command staff ready to serve the troops who usually serve them.
"Whenever you see them on the same plane almost, serving you and greeting you, 'Happy Thanksgiving.' It's a humbling feeling,” Pvt. Darryl Bolden said.
The century-old Army tradition that also comes with some amazing food.
Check out what was on the menu:
- Shrimp Cocktail- 2,560lbs
- Prime Rib of Beef- 3,650lbs
- Baked Ham- 3,250lbs
- Barbecued Spare Ribs-1,200lbs
- Boiled King Crab Legs-2,425lbs
- Glazed Cornish Hens -1,750lbs
- Roast Turkey- 3,725lbs
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese-6,500 servings
- Candied Sweet Potatoes-6,500 servings
- Green Beans- 6,500 servings
- Black-eyed Peas-2,500 servings
- Corn on the Cob- 2,500 servings
- Collard Greens – 6,500 servings
- Corn Bread- 7,500 servings
- Assorted Cakes-6,500 servings
- Assorted Pies – 6,500 servings
- Over 10,000lbs of Assorted Fresh Fruits
"This is a first-class meal,” Lt. Col. Eric Booker, with the 59th Ordnance Brigade, said.
For most of the soldiers, it is their first Thanksgiving away from their families.
"This is my first Thanksgiving away from home,” PFC Kalei See said. “It's kind of sad."
As a result, the Army goes all out to make it a memorable experience.
“What we do is we teach them the Army is one big family as well,” Col. Sean Davis, with the 59th Ordnance Brigade, said. “So they're having Thanksgiving still with their family, just a different family."
In fact, the soldiers never forget where they were for their first Thanksgiving in the Army.
For Lt. Col. Eric Booker, with the 59th Ordnance Brigade, it was Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
"I was in Korea serving the troops my first year away from home,” Capt. Mike Clark, with the 59th Ordnance Brigade, said.
But the soldiers at Fort Lee know there is no guarantee. Their next Thanksgiving could be served when they're deployed in harm’s way.
"Some of these Soldiers will leave here this month and join a unit overseas, so we want to make sure they have a Great Thanksgiving before they do that as well,” Col. Sean Davis, with the 59th Ordnance Brigade, said.
As Thanksgiving Dinner wrapped up t Fort Lee, the soldiers realized they have an extended family in the Army.