During winter holidays, Families all across America will be preparing for the season of Thanksgiving, where moments of quality time, laughter, good food and reasons to be thankful will be shared together.
About 15 dining facilities on Fort Bragg are preparing for a similar occasion as they get ready to serve their big Thanksgiving meals to begin this year’s holiday season.
“This year will be a major difference because we will have almost all of the six brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps home,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jasper Lee, XVIII Abn. Corps Food Service Advisor. “This will be the first time we’ve had this many Soldiers back home in about six years.”
Prepping for this big occasion every year is no easy task, as much planning and participation is involved months prior in order to make this event successful.
Lee said that thousands of products such as meat, vegetables, sauces, breads, deserts, along with miscellaneous items, such as candy and nuts, are first ordered, and then shipped to post prior to distributing to each dining facility.
Not only will Fort Bragg cooks be able to provide home-cooked meals to fellow Soldiers and their Families, but they will also compete against one another to see which dining facility is the finest on Fort Bragg during the Thanksgiving holiday meal “Best DFAC Competition.” Judging will be based on preparation, sanitation, decorations and displays.
“Each dining facility will pick a theme and create decorations and displays based off of that theme,” said Sgt. 1st Class Grant Beyers, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade’s dining facility manager. “It’s a lot of preparing and work to do, not only on decorations, but most importantly the food.”
“This is like our Super Bowl,” said Beyers, “Cooks don’t always get a chance to show what they can do and how they do it on a daily basis. This time of year is essentially our time to show what we’re made of, as well as giving Soldiers and Families an excellent Thanksgiving meal.”
“It’s a great opportunity to provide this kind of meal for Soldiers that do stay home for the holidays and give them a kind of place to confide so they do not feel alone,” said Spc. Matthew Tisch, a food service specialist for Headquarters Support Company, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd CAB. “It’s an honor, especially at this dining facility, because we get a lot of people here.
As the preparation begins and with a couple of weeks left until the big meals are presented, Soldiers reflect on the importance of giving back.
“It’s all about the Families and Soldiers,” said Sgt. Maj. Mark Sumler, XVIII Abn. Corps Food Service sergeant major. “It’s about giving them an experience that would be similar to what they would have at home.”
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Sumler. “For every Soldier that comes into one of our many dining facilities that day, they may not understand how much work was put into that night, but they’ll realize and appreciate the cooks when they see the results.”
“If you’ve been in the military for a while, your friends become your Family much like your blood relatives,” he added. “We invite everyone to come out and take part in the Thanksgiving meal and understand and appreciate what the cooks do on the daily basis.”
The following dining facilities will be serving Thanksgiving meals from Nov. 20-22:
Tuesday, Nov. 20 – 82nd Sustainment Brigade; 1st Brigade Combat Team; Warrior Transition Battalion; 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade; 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
Wednesday, Nov. 21 – 18th Fires Brigade; 20th Engineers Brigade; 525 Battlefield Surveillance Brigade; 2nd Brigade Combat Team; 3rd Brigade Combat Team; 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Thursday, Nov. 22 – 2nd Brigade Combat Team; Camp Mackall; Womack Army Medical Center.
Thanksgiving meal scheduled serving times at dining facilities
Thanksgiving Meal Rates