November 22nd, 2006 03:11 EST
Turkey Day in Iraq
CAMP LIBERTY — Thanksgiving Day has historically been the biggest meal military dining facilities serve around the globe. This year’s banquet in Baghdad will be no exception.
“We spent nearly $12 million on food for the troops in November,” said CWO 4 Shawn Malinowski, the Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s command food advisor. “About $4 million of that went just for Thanksgiving.”
With nearly 50,000 hungry troops to feed for the holiday, Malinowski said food orders were placed six months in advance to ensure delivery from stateside sources.
“It’s all USDA-approved,” said the Philadelphia native. “It’s the responsibility of the food service section to order for the next year’s holiday meals.
“The 4th Infantry Division took care of us this time,” he added. “We’ll take care of them next year.”
The amount of food shipped in for Turkey Day this year is staggering: 40,000 pounds of turkey; 30,000 pounds of ham; 10,000 pounds of shrimp (for shrimp cocktail); 500 cases of cranberry sauce; and 1,000 pumpkin pies.
“Thanksgiving showcases our culinary skills,” said Sgt. Maj. Terry Stewart, MND-B’s food service sergeant major and Malinowski’s right-hand man. “It’s a traditional day for Americans to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. Soldiers appreciate our efforts. It reminds them of home.”
While orders were sent out months ago, Stewart said cooks at the contracted dining facilities have been working on Thanksgiving Day meal preparations since the first week of November.
The South Hampton, N.Y., native said many hours go into the meal’s presentation, with special features such as ice carvings, cornucopias and gingerbread houses setting the mood in each dining facility.
“Plus, preparing the meal takes some time,” Stewart added. “It’s definitely more food than you’d even find at grandma’s.”
Stewart said the menu at each dining facility within MND-B’s area will be the same.
He said the goal is to get a hot Thanksgiving Day meal to every Soldier within the division.
“All the patrol bases will have their meals sent out to them,” Stewart said.
(Story by: Master Sgt. Dave Larson, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)