Pvt. Ashton Withers was surprised at the size of the Thanksgiving meal event at Fort Gordon.
“People have mentioned that it’s really big, but actually seeing it, it’s bigger than I thought it would be,” Withers, from Kentucky, said. “It’s amazing. I really like it.”
Withers was among the thousands of military personnel served a Thanksgiving meal at the post Thursday. For most of the service members, it was their first time spending the holiday away from loved ones.
“I do miss my family, but I’m glad to be able to make a new family here,” Pvt. Jonathan Karch, from Florida, said.
The meal was part of the Commanding General’s Best Decorated Dining Facility Competition between three different dining facilities on post. Dining Facilities 1, 6 and 8 participated in this year’s competition.
“We pretty much decorate and win an award for best decoration dining facilities, so we try to go all out and dramatic for the soldiers because they are not able to go home to experience home,” Tiffany Galloway, dining facility manager for facility 6 , said.
For Galloway, it means a lot to provide the soldiers with a Thanksgiving meal.
“It means a lot to me. I have a couple of family members that are in the military and I would want them to feel at home wherever they are, so I try to provide that for my soldiers,” she said.
Soldier Yongai Coppenrath was spending her first Thanksgiving away from her family in Germany this year. She was impressed by the variety of food.
“It’s a really good meal. It’s a very loving environment here and the decorations are really great too,” she said. “I did not think there was going to be so many variety of food here. It’s actually really good food.”
Galloway said it took about 24 hours to prepare everything for the soldiers on post. Dining facilities staff prepared around 2,000 pounds of turkey, 1,200 pounds of ham, 410 pounds of shrimp, 500 pounds of prime rib and 660 pounds of steamship round.
The competition recognizes staff for their culinary skills and display presentations. A trophy is presented to the winning dining facility by the commanding general. This year, the trophy was awarded to dining facility 6.
Galloway enjoys the event and said she hoped it made it easier for soldiers to be separated from their families.
“We want to give them a real good sense of home,” she said. “I love the expressions that I get. Everybody just loves it, so that’s why I enjoy it.”
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