Fort Bragg holds annual Thanksgiving dinner with COVID-19 restrictions

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thanksgiving on Fort Bragg looks a lot different this year with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restrictions are in place, but that's not stopping the annual feast.

Nothing brings family together quite like good food. Sgt. John Lytle couldn't make it home to San Antonio, Texas this holiday but enjoyed the Tuesday's feast.

"I don't get a chance to go home for Thanksgiving. I do for Christmas and New Years. It is definitely nice to come to this DFAC and have a good meal with friends," said Sgt. Lytle. "It's definitely second best to mama's cooking. I was in Afghanistan for Thanksgiving and Christmas last year. Before that, I spent Thanksgiving in Kenya."


For many soldiers, this is the only Thanksgiving meal they will have.

COVID-19 has forced officials to modify its annual tradition. There are masks in the kitchen and to-go plates. The dining room inside the DFAC is closed, but tents are set up outside for soldiers to dine alone or with friends.

Fort Bragg officials told ABC11 it took 956 pounds of turkey, 400 pounds of pig, 402 pounds of collard greens, 78 cans of yams and 100 pumpkin pies to pull this meal off across the installation.

Inside the 3rd Brigade Combat team DFAC, soldiers worked overnight and put their heart and soul into preparing this traditional meal.

WATCH: A look inside the kitchen prepping Thanksgiving dinner for Fort Bragg soldiers
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Here's an inside look at the kitchen prepping Thanksgiving for 400 Fort Bragg soldiers

"The food on the line, a lot of cooks here put their foot into this food. They made sure the soldiers who weren't able to go home had a homemade meal here on Fort Bragg," said Sgt. John Bawuah.

Soldiers like Sgt. Lytle, who won't break bread this Thanksgiving with family in San Antonio, Texas, will instead celebrate this holiday with friends who have become family.

"We're all one big family here as paratroopers," said Lytle.
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