Under the Radar

How to Feed an Army…and Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force and Coast Guard on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving means food and wherever our service members are in the world, they’ll get some this holiday.


According to the Navy, they are ready to fill stomachs across the fleet with 9,000 pounds of shrimp cocktail, 89,000 pounds of turkey, 24,000 pounds of ham, 18,000 pounds of sweet potatoes, 17,000 pounds of stuffing and 1,800 gallons of gravy. For the vegetarians in the fleet there will also be 8,000 pounds of green bean casserole, 7,000 pounds of corn, and 6,000 pounds of cranberry sauce.


Fort Benning, a time honored tradition continues with senior officers and NCOs wearing their dress blue uniforms to serve Soldiers their Thanksgiving meal.

Fort Benning has fourteen dining facilities and will serve over 12,000 meals. That means 5,000 pounds of turkey and over 3,000 pounds of ham. Those partaking of the feast include soldiers, retirees, and families staying on post for the holiday. Fort Lee will also continue their tradition of opening their dining facilities to civilians in the area.


Marines from Camp Pendleton get the opportunity to be “adopted” for the day by local families. The program started in the 1970’s and is popular with the young Marines who have just graduated boot camp and may not be able to travel to see their family. The sponsor families pick up the Marine and bring them back by the end of the day after they’ve been fed and had a few hours to relax outside of the gates. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, last year 413 families hosted 1,384 young Marines.

Air Force

The Air Force has a similar program and airmen in the San Antonio area have the opportunity to be “adopted” for the day to share a Thanksgiving meal with a local family. The program, which was started 42 years ago, is called “Operation Home Cooking.” More than 1,400 local families host roughly 2,400 Airmen for the day.

Coast Guard

The Coast Guard is not only serving thanksgiving dinner, they are sharing their recipes. No need to call the Butterball hotline; just use this recipe for roast turkey prepared by Chief Petty Officer Ben Murray. Don’t forget the stuffing, prepared by Chief Petty Officer Megan Mullen.

And what about those military members deployed this year? The Defense Logistics Agency has it covered. Over in the Middle East, deployed service members and Department of Defense civilians will be well fed with DFACs serving up over 98,000 pounds of turkey, 47,000 pounds of beef, 31,000 pounds of ham, 30,000 pounds of shrimp, 6,000 pies and 9,000 cakes.

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