Nov. 30, 2010

Virginia Soldiers celebrate Thanksgiving in Afghanistan

By Staff Reports

SHINDAND AIRBASE , Afghanistan — Thanksgiving Day served as a small break in the hectic schedule of Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion serving on active duty in Aghanistan.


In keeping with a long-standing Army tradition, the officers of the 529th Combat Service Support Battalion served more than 2,500 Thanksgiving meals to the enlisted Soldiers. (Photo courtesy 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion)

The battalion staff received an operations order the night before, and the planning in support of the order went late into the night. Unit first sergeants and food service planners were also up late planning for the provisions of the holiday meal.

Because of the time difference, football games and parades in the states would not begin until 3:00 the day after; so, relaxation meant reading a book, playing football or basketball, watching some of the late-night television or watching a movie.

In keeping with a long-standing Army tradition, the officers of the battalion served more than 2,500 Thanksgiving meals to the enlisted Soldiers. The menu included turkey, steak, lobster, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans, macaroni-and-cheese, cold shrimp, eggnog, cider, ice cream and pumpkin pie.

The American Thanksgiving holiday was a celebration for the Italian and Slovenian personnel stationed at Shindand, as well as for the civilian contractors.  The line leading into the dining facility was 20 minutes long from the first hour well into the final hours of the meal. According to senior leaders, all the personnel on the base were pleased with the meal.

In the afternoon, Col. Larry D. Bowers, the Commandant of Shindand Airbase, hosted a Native American Appreciation Banquet. Staff Sgt. Antoinette Mitchell, of the 104th Transportation Company, whose mother and grandfather are of direct Native American descent, told of her family’s experiences.

After the meal, many Soldiers were able to call or video with loved ones, and went back to enjoying their well-earned downtime.

The 529th deployed in May 2010 to the remote forward operating base at Shindand Air Base in Afghanistan and operates in Regional Command-West Afghanistan where they are the first U.S. sustainment battalion to locate in the area and conduct operations. Working directly with Italian, Spanish and Afghan forces, the unit’s mission is to provide supply, maintenance and transportation support to U.S. and coalition warfighters throughout the region that covers the four large western provinces of Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor.

The battalion has command and control over several active duty units to accomplish their mission: the 104th Transportation Company from Fort Benning, Ga., the 183d Maintenance Company from Fort Carson, Colo., and the 226th Quartermaster Platoon from Fort Stewart, Ga.

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