It was always a special event to serve Thanksgiving dinner to Soldiers while wearing dress blues. Soldiers always had a big smile on their faces when being served by their leaders. They especially liked it when the Mess Sergeant supervising the operation kept telling the servers to watch the serving size or they could run out. I don’t reckon I ever made it through my shift as a server without getting something on my uniform. This was usually pointed out by my wife when I finally joined my son and her for our meal together.
While in the Army, my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner had to be first in 1971 during Basic Combat Training at Fort Ord, California. It was the first time I saw an Army dress blue uniform. The Senior Drill Sergeant, First Sergeant and Company Commander wore them. The other Drill Sergeants wore their Class A service uniforms. Every member of the cadre was a Vietnam Combat Veteran. I would later come to realize that was behind the intensity and urgency with which they pushed and trained us.
I remember that Mess Hall scene as clearly today as if I was still standing there. What was typically very business like with lots of kitchen noise, little or no talking, and Drill Sergeants yelling out for the dining room orderlies wasn’t there. Tables were set out in long rows all of them covered with white linens. Some trainees were able to have their families there. We entered the Mess Hall and were positioned behind a chair. Once everyone was in, we were seated and then table by table we moved through the serving line. The cooks typically served us wearing white tee-shirts and aprons and moved us through as quickly as possible. This day, they were decked out in heavily starched cook whites and where polite as we moved through the line. Back in the barracks, we were allowed to call home. I made my collect call home and talked with my parents until the Drill Sergeant reminded that others were waiting. On that day, my leaders and comrades in arms became my extended family. It was a great Army day.
As you go through this day of thanksgiving, take a moment. Remember at many locations around this world, Soldiers married and single are separated from their families. The bonds they have with fellow Soldiers is significant for them, but there is no bond closer than real family. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. God bless them everyone.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.