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'It looks like home;' Officers serve Fort Lee soldiers Thanksgiving dinner

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Posted at 10:12 AM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-28 18:00:13-05

FORT LEE, Va. — Some of you spent hours in the kitchen yesterday cooking up an amazing Thanksgiving feast, but can you imagine cooking 2,200 pounds of turkey? Or 2,275 pounds of beef, 1,250 pounds of potatoes and 800 cakes?

Well, that's just part of the Thanksgiving feast prepared for the soldiers at Fort Lee.

For most of them fresh out of boot camp, it was their first Thanksgiving in the army and away from home.

But the young soldiers were not only in for a festive meal, but also few other surprises thanks to a long-standing Army tradition.

“Stuffing, yams and cornbread" said a young soldier to the server in the food line.

Lt. Colonel Brandon Robinson asked a soldier “What can I get for you? Roast turkey. I got you”. 

Behind another serving line, First Lt. Kyle Burns, tells a young soldier,“Hey Happy Thanksgiving."

"It was surprising" said Private Dexter Johnson. That’s because those doing the serving were the officer’s and NCO’s who every other day are in command of the soldiers.

When asked what it was like to have a colonel serve them, Private Niah Allen said, "It was definitely weird."

Johnson, at a loss for words when he saw the officers serving “I was speechless."

“It was surprising cause, it’s nice to see that they appreciate us, as much as...we appreciate them. It’s nice to see they would serve us" said Private Montana Zweibohmer.

Officers serving the enlisted is a long tradition in the army. They can remember their first Thanksgiving away from home. 

“My first Thanksgiving in the Army was Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland," said Command Sgt. Major Tamara Drury.

“My First Thanksgiving away from home was actually Fort Benning Georgia" said Drill Sgt. Anthony Perryman.

It’s a tradition the officers believe is important to continue as Robinson explained. “This is what it’s all about as a leader. If you can’t serve the people that take care of you, why are you even here? These individuals, right here, that are going to take care of the mission and to protect this country.  So, it’s our duty as leaders to take care of our soldiers, and that’s what I’m going to do".

Drury added, “I want them to see me as the person first. I want them to see me as a soldier, and then a leader that cares."

“Throughout the day, I fly a desk, but this is a great opportunity for me to actually get one on one with the soldiers and see them, actually get to serve them food," said Burns.

For the soldiers, the best surprise is the meal itself.

 “Usually we have about the same thing, cheeseburger, pizza, things like that.  We definitely don’t usually get turkey, ham, shrimp. Never" said Allen.

Zweibohmer added, “I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment or this kind of food, it’s been great" and she says the best part was, "Mac and cheese honestly. Mac and cheese is great."

For many away from home for their first Thanksgiving, an outstanding compliment to those who prepared the food “It looks like home; it looks like home now" said Johnson.