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Turkeys rule the roost at Marine camp in Afghanistan

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — There's a bunch of turkeys at Camp Leatherneck — and they're not Marines.

An Afghan village elder had given the flightless fowl to Marine Maj. Gen. Charles "Mark" Gurganus, the previous U.S. commander in southwest Afghanistan, to be served for Thanksgiving dinner for American troops.

But the turkey, named "Harry," received a pardon when health inspectors at the base were unsure about whether he would be safe to eat. A female turkey companion, "Harriet," was soon brought in for Harry, and this spring, they mated and gave birth to five healthy chicks, or poults.

The turkey family — Harry, Harriet and the poults — have taken over a grassy shaded area near the camp's headquarters.

(Corrected paragraph:) Pa spent the first two weeks squawking at anyone who came near. Now that the poults are a little older, he's taken to mostly preening in the shade, while Ma scurries about, making sure her brood doesn't wander too far away.

Lt. Col. Cliff Gilmore, the camp's public affairs director, said it's not uncommon to walk by the command post and find troops watching the poults totter around.

"I suspect these are some of the most well-protected baby turkeys in the world," he said.

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