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As rain fell Wednesday, soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division passed through serving lines for a midday meal filling their plates with a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and dressing plus trimmings.
Sitting at a table with several fellow soldiers, Spc. Will Gomez said the thought of leaving his child and pregnant wife behind when he is deployed to Afghanistan in a few weeks, “Will be difficult, but I have a second family to take care of” referring to other soldiers in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Gomez is from New Jersey and his wife and family are living there to be close to family.
“Hopefully I’ll be back for the birth of my child,” he said.
Sitting across the table from Gomez, Sgt. Andrea Hinton, of Hampton, Va., said she is thankful for her perfect health and the health of her family. As a single parent she said it will be difficult to miss her child’s first birthday while deployed.
With nine years of service, Hinton said, “this will be my third deployment and missing the birthday will be hard on me. I’ve missed some of my other child’s birthdays while deployed.”
Though both will be away from family, they said they are proud to be serving their country and performing their duties.
Cpt. Mark Snowbarger was joined by his wife, Candace and son, Keegan, to share the meal. Snowbarger also will deploy soon.
“We’re thankful to be together for the next few weeks,” he said as the family sat down to eat. “It will be stressful to be gone, especially during the holidays,”
Keegan said. “I’ll miss having him around, we can’t play baseball together.”
The dining facility was decorated for the holiday season with large ice sculptures, table settings and an abundance of food. The crews expected to serve around 2,000 soldiers plus other family members in a four-hour window.
In holding with tradition, officers and non-commissioned officers from the brigade staffed serving lines behind the glass, filling the soldier’s plates. Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Alexander stood at one end ladling gravy onto plates at the soldiers’ requests.
While the NCOs served on one line dressed in formal uniforms and donning paper serving hats, Lt. Michael Roth stood on the other side and used his iPhone’s camera to capture the moment.
Over the next few weeks, many soldiers passing through the facility will be deployed to Afghanistan for at least a year. For one day the solders were able to celebrate the holiday, enjoy a peaceful meal, have fellowship and not worry about combat for a few moments.
Neal Cardin can be reached at (270) 505-1753.