Happy Turkey Day

Story and Photos by Spc. Naveed Ali Shah
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Soldiers across the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) took time off to enjoy Thanksgiving here in Iraq this past week.

Naturally, the holiday required the dining facilities to pull out all the stops in preparation for the big meal. The menu included a choice of turkey, pot roast, or pineapple glazed ham for the main course, with all the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, such as sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, corn and delicious buttered bread rolls. It certainly was a feast.

Service members choose between eggnog, sprinkled with nutmeg or cinnamon, and sparkling grape juice to choose from. To round out a fine meal, there was pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert.

Because being away from home for the holidays can make anybody homesick, Soldiers across Iraq enjoyed the meal with their comrades, coming together to give thanks with their adopted families.

“I try to treat it like just another day,” said Spc. Chase Hemsley, a medic with the 96th Sustainment Brigade out of Camp Taji, Iraq.

Hemsley spent his holiday at Camp Korean Village, a U.S. Marine Corps base in western Iraq, slightly different from what his surroundings would have been if he had been back home in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Back home my wife and I go to different dinners for Thanksgiving, usually driving about 200 or 300 miles across a couple states to visit all our family members,” said Hemsley, talking about the holiday tradition he observes along with his wife of two years, Caitlin.

Like most Soldiers, Hemsley said he called his family, but tried not to make a big deal about the holiday because he wanted to avoid getting homesick. Hemsley did, though, set the day apart from the rest with an exception to his usual routine.

Hemsley said, “I’m usually pretty strict about what I eat, but I’m letting myself eat whatever today.”

news photo
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark D. Joseph, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), is greeted by pilgrim in front of a Thanksgiving display at the Q-West dining facility on November 26.


news photo
Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), watches Soldiers engage in a holiday tradition – a Madden tournament – at FOB Marez on November 26.

news photo
Sgt. Rodney Rodgers, 11th Movement Control Team, 49th Transportation Battalion, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), sings a medley of hymns in front of the Thanksgiving display at the Camp Korean Village dining facility on November 26.