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!

An Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady flies a training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)

For some brave U-2 pilots, life on the ground just can't compare to flying a 64-year-old spy plane to the edge of space, but some airmen need that extra rush.

For Capt. Joshua Bird of the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, he seemed to have found that rush in cocaine — at least, that's what an official legal notice from Beale Air Force Base said he did.

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(U.S. Navy photo)

A shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has left four people dead, including the gunman, law enforcement officials said at a Friday news conference.

The shooter and two victims were killed at the base and another victim died after being taken to the hospital, said Chip Simmons, deputy chief of the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

Another seven people remain hospitalized, including two sheriff's deputies who engaged the gunman, Simmons said at Friday's news conference. One was hit in the arm and the other was shot in the knee. Both are expected to recover.

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A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

(Reuters) - A Black Hawk helicopter went down in central Minnesota on Thursday, killing all three soldiers on board, after it lost contact with the Minnesota National Guard during a maintenance test flight, Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday.

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The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.

Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."

Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.

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I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.

Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.

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