This scene, reminiscent of the historic celebration at Plymouth, took place here on FOB Falcon, Nov. 26, as dozens of Iraqi tribal, civil and military leaders and their families were guests of the 30th HBCT for Thanksgiving dinner. "It's a chance to share our culture; they invited us to Ramadan and now it's our turn," said Maj. Marty Reigher.
The meal was the traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings, including sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, green beans, apple and pumpkin pie. More importantly, it was a meeting of new comrades and a reunion of old. "We wanted to invite our friends over to talk," said Reigher.
The scene was a collage of U.S. and Iraqi uniforms, 3-piece suits, traditional dress and even jeans and t-shirts. Laughter filled the crowded room as greetings were exchanged. Nearly everyone posed for pictures and several cameras were passed around.
U.S. Soldiers guided their guests to the dining facility and pointed out the new dishes they believed their Iraqi friends might like. The environment was an opportunity for local Iraqi social and military leaders to discuss important issues with each other.
"Iraqi culture is built on trust and a man's word,” said Reigher. “They like open forums for meetings, so that everyone sees and hears what is done."
After dessert and many animated conversations, it was time for the guests to leave. Hugging his host, Col. Gary Thompson, deputy bde cmdr, Shaykh al-Jubari said, "It was an honor and we shall start celebrating Thanksgiving together from now on."
First Lt. Bryan Riggs, a plt leader in Co E, 1st Bn, 8th Cav Regt, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav Div, led the effort to get the school built.
The Kalour IP were also in attendance, and took the opportunity to improve their relationship with the village children by distributing toys donated by the 414th CAB.
“Providing superb meals to our U.S. troops is a critical mission of the Defense Logistics Agency, and one we put a great deal of effort into,” said AF Brig. Gen. Scott Chambers, cmdr of the DLA Philadelphia field activity, which provides all the food for U.S. military personnel worldwide, 365 days a year.
DLA employees in the Philadelphia-based subsistence supply chain start their Thanksgiving meal planning early to make sure that food items and ingredients will arrive overseas in time for the holiday. Many ingredients for the meals are on hand at prime vendor locations by September, and bigger dining facilities start receiving high-volume items, such as turkeys and large beef roasts, in October.
Navy Capt. Ed Rackauskas, who leads DLA’s subsistence directorate, said deliveries began in Iraq and Afghanistan in mid-October to allow for unexpected changes or possible redistribution due to movement of troops. “No matter where troops are stationed, they can expect DLA to provide the best possible meal for Thanksgiving,” he added.
He said putting together these meals is challenging, particularly in supplying some of the bigger dining facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, where holiday meals are served all day to accommodate service members working different shifts.
Here is a breakdown of quantities and dollar values for Thanksgiving meals for service members in Iraq:
Raw and precooked whole turkey: 225,980 pounds, $795,359.08; Turkey white meat: 77,648 pounds, $416,969.76; Turkey dark meat: 73,296 pounds, $236,013.12; Ham: 40,826 pounds, $135,020.26; Beef: 23,536 pounds, $128,019.30; Shrimp: 28,764 pounds, $180,062.64; Stuffing mix: 37,107 pounds, $87,421.94; Potatoes: 41,515 pounds, $102,362.32; Sweet potatoes: 9,702 cans, $60,799.20; Vegetables, corn, green beans: 59,435 pounds, $80,771.42; Cranberry sauce: 7,188 cans, $52,448.44; Pie: 26,946 pies, $245,320.33; and Cake: 13,544 cakes, $220,915.68.
The total dollar value for Thanksgiving meals in Iraq is $2,741,483.49.
BAGHDAD – 39 women from the MoD and Interior attended a conference, Nov. 19 to discuss women’s issues. This marked the first time an Iraqi woman moderated such an event.
Ms. Iman Najid, director of Human Rights for the MoD, led the discussion about the struggles of Iraqi women who are still striving for equal treatment. “The purpose of this conference is to show how Iraqi women are participating in the MoD”, said Najid.
Five Iraqi female leaders spoke about their experiences and struggles, as a means to encourage and inspire the attendees. Dr. (Maj.) Noor Berakhdar, Inspector General, MoD highlighted the importance of mentorship. “Mentorship starts with the family”, she said. “When you're a little child, your parents are role models.” Berakhdar went on to challenge the other women, adding, “you must work for it. Have the ambition. Do whatever it takes.”
Female military reps from Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq attended in support of the conference, and listened to the Iraqi women’s issues and concerns. The 4-hour session ended with a gift exchange between the U.S. and Iraqi women.
Army Maj. Tiffany Carr, Chief, School of the Advisor, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, said “I think the conference was outstanding. It was the first time they coordinated their own conference. They discussed the issues currently facing them and came up with solutions together.”
After nearly a week of getting his hands sticky and standing in a freezer, Spc. Christian Colon, applies the finishing touches to a 6-foot tall Raider statue made of butter, Nov. 26, for display during the Thanksgiving Day meal at the Raider Inn dining facility on Camp Liberty.