For many, Thanksgiving is a time when friends and family gather around a table to drink too heavily, eat too much, and shout loudly over one another — or at least that’s the case in my family. We build new memories and reminisce about the people in life that make us grateful.

While serving in the Marines and spending Thanksgivings away from home, I came to realize what many before me already knew — that the holiday doesn’t change much.

For the countless American men and women who have missed the holidays while abroad in times of war and peace, and for the many away this year, here’s a collection of photos, images, and videos of an American Thanksgiving at war.

Civil War

Thanksgiving sketch Civil WarSketch by Alfred Waud
This sketch, by American illustrator Alfred Waud, depicts a Thanksgiving celebration at a Union camp in 1861.

World War I

Thanksgiving WWIPhoto via the Department of Defense
Service members celebrate the end of World War I with a Thanksgiving feast on Nov. 28, 1918.

World War II

Thanksgiving WWIIPhoto by William F. Caddell
U.S. Army Sgt. Frank Shiborski, a 50 cal. machine gunner from Detroit, Michigan, takes a moment to enjoy a Thanksgiving turkey drumstick on Nov 22, 1944.

This video, called “Turkey and Trimmings” by Army filmmakers, shows U.S. soldiers in Italy preparing Thanksgiving dinner in 1944.

Korean War

Thanksgiving in KoreaPhoto via the U.S. Marine Corps
Marines serving in Korea enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in this undated photo.

Vietnam War


Sgt. 1st Class Lonnie Mitchell prepares a Thanksgiving Day dinner for Special Forces soldiers at Xom Cat, Vietnam. The unit’s only source of resupply was by helicopter and the video follows Mitchell from the kitchen all the way to the isolated hilltop where they enjoy their holiday meal on Nov. 22, 1966.

Desert Shield

Desert shield photoPhoto via the U.S. Marine Corps
A British soldier is served Thanksgiving Day dinner at the 1st Marine Division combat center in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield on Nov. 23, 1990.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Thanksgiving IraqU.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Brian Christiansen
Soldiers with the 30th Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina National Guard wait in line for Thanksgiving dinner at Forward Operating Base Cobra in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, on Nov. 25, 2004.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Thanksgiving celebrationU.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment, hunker around a small fire to eat their Thanksgiving meal at Combat Outpost Cherkatah, in Khost province, Afghanistan, on Nov. 26, 2009.