The serving lines and long tables laden with food may be replaced with grab-and-go takeout, but U.S. service members overseas won't be without their traditional Thanksgiving meal, thanks to the Defense Logistics Agency.
The organization, responsible for distributing supplies to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Defense Department installations worldwide, has sent 131 tons of gourmet eats for deployed troops to consume on Thanksgiving Day.
Planning began in early March -- back when America had fewer than 500 coronavirus cases and toilet paper began flying off store shelves.
"The holidays will look quite different this year for everyone," Army Brig. Gen. Gavin Lawrence, DLA Troop Support commander, said in a release. "I'm proud that our workforce is doing everything possible to make sure our warfighters get a proper holiday meal, especially since many of us will not be able to be with our family and friends."
With fewer troops stationed abroad this year than last, shipments of roasted turkey, beef and ham are lower than previous years, but the amounts can still feed legions. The DLA has shipped 51,000 pounds of roasted turkey -- a 24% decrease from last year -- and 74,000 pounds of beef, down from 80,546.
But more units are cooking for themselves, as reflected in an uptick in the number of whole turkeys sent overseas. More than 9,000 were shipped this year -- 4,075 more birds than last year.
The DLA has also sent 50% more shrimp to troops this year, for a total of 67,000 pounds.
"We want to make sure they get that taste of home no matter where they are in the world," Lawrence said.
According to the DLA, many of the ingredients had arrived by September, but the turkey and trimmings began arriving at locations overseas in October. Most locations received all supplies for meals by mid-November.
In addition to the entrees, the DLA also provides fixings, sides and desserts. Other items shipped this year include:
- 16,000 pounds of sweet potatoes
- 19,000 pounds of pie and cake
- 7,000 gallons of eggnog
These holiday rations will go to field kitchens, dining facilities and galleys for troops in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, South Korea, Japan, Qatar, Honduras and elsewhere.
"Our supply chain takes the holidays very seriously," said Army Col. Eric McCoy, DLA Troop Support subsistence director. "Our troops are far away from home, and they definitely look forward to this meal. Disappointing them is not an option."