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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving In Iraq

Our proud soldiers celebrate Thanksgiving in Iraq and elsewhere.

Happy Thanksgiving to our Troops Everywhere!!!

From their positions across Iraq's dangerous and insurgent-dominated Anbar province, more than 20,000 Marines quickly and quietly marked Thanksgiving amid their work, while trying to bring some homestyle traditions to Iraq.

There was a flag football tournament on fields of hard-packed sand that became blanketed by blinding dust whenever medical evacuation helicopters took off or landed nearby.

"Thanksgiving is food and football. That's what we do every year. It's America, even if we're in Iraq," said Cpl. Daniel J. English, a native of Antwerp, Ohio, in the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion.

A television lounge at Camp Fallujah planned to show NFL games live, even though they didn't start here until the middle of the night. Cardboard turkeys, pumpkins and pilgrims in belt-buckle hats were plastered around many buildings.

Inside the base's two sprawling mess halls, three-foot turkey sculptures fashioned out of butter greeted the troops, who piled their trays high with roast turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cornbread as well as pumpkin and four other varieties of pie. The menu also included prime rib, crab legs, shrimp cocktail, fried chicken and collard greens.

"It's the most important day of the year for us," said Raymond Yung, director of one of the food service crews at Camp Fallujah.

Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter arrived in Iraq on Wednesday and visited the camp while touring several Anbar locations.

"The morale seems very good. Yes, they have thoughts of home as everybody does, but I think that they recognize the importance of their mission and many have told me that very directly and without prompting," Winter said in a lunchtime interview. "The sense that the sailors and the Marines have is that they are making progress."