Thanksgiving comes early for troops headed out

November 24, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Private Kristopher Johnson is about to leave on his first deployment. By next week, he and many of his comrades will be in Iraq. With the holidays coming up, it's a tough time of year to be leaving. For Johnson, it'll be the first time he's not been with his family at Thanksgiving."To tell you the truth, it's a little bit awkward being away from my family because I always had… being together with my whole family is a rare sight to have all my family together. I like home better because, specifically, the deviled eggs I guess. I like those eggs," he explained.

Troops leaving for overseas duty got a special early Thanksgiving meal at Fort Bragg Tuesday. Normally, the food service workers would serve the meal. But it's Army tradition on special meals that the officers and senior NCOs take care of their men and women.

"I got to get these guys ready. We're getting ready to deploy soon to Iraq and they have to be well fed and ready to go down range to accomplish their mission and task. So we're excited about that," offered Captain Derek Johnson.

Robert Barnes is a former Army mess sergeant. Now, he manages the dining hall on base as a civilian. He knows what it's like when your family is across the country and you're getting ready to head half way around the world into combat.

"So they don't have their family here, so I think this is a very important meal for them. They get a chance to be with their friends before they leave. And they get a chance to bond with the people they know," he explained.

That's what makes the meal extra special: spending time with family and friends soldiers won't see for the next year.


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