FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Hundreds of soldiers at Fort Bragg celebrated Thanksgiving a little early with a feast on Tuesday.
Dozens of military cooks worked for hours to put on the meal for over 1200 paratroopers. Troops say that it's more about the camaraderie than the stuffing.
"I think if you look behind me," Colonel Colin Tuley said, motioning towards a dining room full of troops. "This is exactly what it means, it means family. It means pure family."
A family many have found among each other.
"I'll be here for Thanksgiving. It'll be my third Thanksgiving away from home," military specialist Eric Lozano said. "I won't be the only one not going home, so it's good to give back to those soldiers also."
Colonel Tuley said it's a time for some to appreciate the strong bonds formed by the dangerous nature of their work.
"It brings us all together, but it also allows us to reflect on what it means to serve our nation, and yes, we do it for our nation, but we also fight and serve for each other.
"And when you jump out of that airplane, you're alone in the black of sky and you hit the ground, all you can do is depend on your buddies to the left and to the right, all to come together and accomplish the mission," Tuley added.
Several soldiers told ABC11 what they are grateful for this year.
"I'm thankful for family, friends, my wife, and I have a child on the way," Sergeant Nathan Gray said.
"Being thankful for what we all have and cherish the moments that you spend with each other," Chief Shedrick Swain said.
"I'm extremely thankful for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me and my family and all of the service members that I served with." Staff Sergeant Traci Gregg said.