The good, the bad, and the ugly of celebrating Thanksgiving while deployed

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U.S. Army Soldiers eat their Thanksgiving meal on Combat Outpost Cherkatah, Khowst province, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2009. The Soldiers are deployed with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

In an ideal world, Thanksgiving is spent at the dining room table, surrounded by beloved family, close friends, and good food. For U.S. service members, it's occasionally spent in the shit.


Luckily, U.S. troops are a resourceful bunch, and plenty of service members who have spent time downrange during the holidays have come away with at least some fond memories — as well as some less-than-ideal tales of dodging mortar rounds on base when they should have been dodging political conversation at the dinner table.

To that end, we asked Task & Purpose readers to share their best stories from celebrating Thanksgiving while deployed — and they came back with the good, the bad, and the ugly of their time downrange.

Here are 29 stories of mortars, meat, and merriment from T&P readers who spent the holidays downrange. Feel free to share yours in the comments below!

Katherine Burton was sitting on her couch when she heard a scream.

Though she had not yet met her upstairs neighbors, Army. Col. Jerel Grimes and his wife Ellizabeth, Burton went to investigate almost immediately. "I knew it was a cry for help," she recalled of the August 1 incident.

Above her downstairs apartment in Huntsville, Alabama, Jerel and Ellizabeth had been arguing. They had been doing a lot of that lately. According to Ellizabeth, Jerel, a soldier with 26 years of service and two Afghanistan deployments under his belt, had become increasingly controlling in the months since the couple had married in April, forcing her to share computer passwords, receipts for purchases, and asking where she was at all times.

"I was starting to realize how controlling he was, and how manipulative he was," Ellizabeth said. "And he'd never been this way towards me in the 15 years that I've known him."

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Aerial footage of the vehicle involved in the June 6, 2019 rollover at West Point that left one cadet dead and 21 others injured. (NBC News screenshot)

Staff Sgt. Ladonies Strong, the soldier charged in September over a deadly vehicle rollover at West Point, will face trial by court-martial, Military.com reported and Task & Purpose confirmed.

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Taliban fighters attempted to fight their way into Bagram Airfield on Wednesday by invading a medical facility just outside of the base's perimeter, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support said Wednesday.

J.P. Lawrence of Stars and Stripes and Jim LaPorta of Newsweek first reported that the battle lasted for several hours after using car bombs to attack the hospital, which is near the base's northern corner. Helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft were reportedly used to drop ordnance on the hospital.

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(Department of Defense)

Actor Mark Wahlberg will be visiting troops overseas to plug Wahlburgers, a fast-casual restaurant chain owned by the actor and his two brothers, Donnie Wahlberg, and chef Paul Wahlberg.

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Russia's sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, in the English Channel in October 2016. (Dover-Marina.com via The New York Times)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, caught fire on Thursday during maintenance work in Russia's Arctic port in Murmansk, and two soldiers were injured, Russian news agencies cited the defense ministry as saying.

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