- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

From combined dispatches
KUWAIT CITY U.S. troops in Kuwait near the tense Iraqi border celebrated Thanksgiving in the desert yesterday with turkey and alcohol-free wine, and with senior officers taking over guard and meal duties.
At Camp New York named in memory of the September 11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center Thanksgiving Day began at dawn with a three-mile "Turkey Trot" run. Troops then played football in the desert before sitting down to their holiday dinner.
Some 10,000 U.S. troops, many from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade, are in Kuwait for training exercises at a time of heightened tension with Iraq.
Col. David Perkins, commander of the brigade based in Fort Stewart, Ga., took over guard duty at one of the entrances to Camp New York. Other officers served Thanksgiving dinner in the mess tents.
"We started off with a fun run here, and after that the officers take over all the guard duties and all the duties of the average soldiers so the privates can enjoy dinner in the mess hall without pulling duties," Col. Perkins said at the camp in northwest Kuwait.
At Camp Commando, turkey was served in a stifling tent for the several hundred Marines and sailors deployed on the edge of a Kuwaiti military base about two hours' drive from Iraq.
For these Marines mostly from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif. it was yet another Thanksgiving away from home.
"It's a sacrifice," said 1st Lt. Travis Knight, of Chattanooga, Tenn., who left two daughters and a pregnant wife back in the United States. But "it's keeping people more safe at home."
His wife is paying a bigger price than he is this year. "She's at home, pregnant, taking care of two kids and a house," he said.
In Afghanistan, Thanksgiving is just another day for most soldiers at Bagram and the other U.S. bases and safe houses scattered around the country.
The helicopters and jets take off and land at all hours of the day, troops patrol the landscape looking for weapons and al Qaeda remnants, Osama bin Laden still has not been found and the war on terror continues.
Pfc. James Hayes, 19, of Penn Yan, N.Y., missed out on Thanksgiving at home for the second year in a row. Last year, he was in basic training during the holiday.
"You're away from your friends, your family. Those are the people you want to be spending time with on the holidays," said Pfc. Hayes, of the 82nd Airborne Division, as he made his way to the chow hall for Thanksgiving lunch.
Outside the Viper City chow hall, the largest of several at Bagram, more than 100 soldiers stood in a line stretching out the door, around the corner and up the road about an hour's wait for their midday holiday meal.
Capt. Stan Gajda, 33, of Williston, Vt., stepped out into the sun after lunching on turkey, roast beef and stuffing. The bounty tastes all the better, he said, in an impoverished country like Afghanistan.
"We've seen how poor, how little the Afghans have. They're grateful for what they have, and we see how little they have. It makes you all the more thankful," said Capt. Gadja, with the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Riverdale, Md.
"We come from a throwaway society," he said. "I mean, the Afghans, they save these little plastic water bottles, while we just throw them away."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide