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Command Ensures Iraqi Freedom Troops Get Full Thanksgiving Feast

By Sgt. Maj. Larry Stevens, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Nov. 26, 2003 – 145,000 pounds of turkey. 71,000 pounds of smoked hams. 71,000 pounds of prime rib. 38,000 pounds of shrimp. 576,000 servings of stuffing. 270,000 servings of corn on the cob. 150,000 servings of cranberry jelly. 41,000 pies apple, pumpkin, cherry, pecan and sweet potato. And don't forget the decorations, eggnog, candies, nuts, ice cream and sparkling non-alcoholic wine.

When the Coalition Forces Land Component Command goes grocery shopping for Thanksgiving supper for its family, it does it big time. And it starts its shopping early.

The CFLCC Food Service section placed its order back in mid-July and started receiving it in October to ensure its soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait get a taste of home this Thanksgiving when they are so far from home fighting for their country. "It took a lot of work and a lot of long hours to make sure the plan was executed right, but I'm proud to say every one of our soldiers will receive their Thanksgiving meal," said Warrant Officer Raymond M. Beu, the CFLCC Theater Food Service chief.

Timing, coordination and constant monitoring helped make the effort a success. For example, with 95 percent of the food coming through the congested Kuwaiti ports, synchronizing freed-up space for offloading was critical, Beu said. Other challenges included ensuring proper refrigeration of the food, meeting shipping timelines and arranging transportation security for deliveries in Iraq.

To make things easier for the field locations and to expedite delivery, Beu requested each division to provide him with the total number of sites for feeding troops. He then had separate shipments built in Kuwait for each site. That saved the forward units the trouble of having to break out packages from several huge shipments.

Thanks to Beu and his team, more than 100 separate locations in Iraq and Kuwait, ranging from permanent dining facilities to containerized kitchens and mobile kitchen trailers, have all the food and fixings needed for a proper Thanksgiving feast. "I think of each soldier out there as one of my soldiers, and each deserves nothing less than the best service and a full traditional dinner at this special time of year for all of us," said Beu.

(Sgt. Major Larry Stevens is assigned to the Public Affairs Office, Coalition Forces Land Component Command.)

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