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Soldiers served holiday meals
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Maj. Mitchell Payne, the commander of Task Force Viking, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, serves Soldiers Thanksgiving lunch at the Marne Bistro dining facility at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Nov. 24, 2020. The dining facility’s meal was used to celebrate the holiday for many Soldiers being unable to travel because of COVID-19 safety guidelines. Photo by Pfc. Aaliyah Craven

Thanksgiving meals were served to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield soldiers by Third Infantry Division and installation leaders at three dining facilities on Nov. 24 and Nov. 26.

The event was put together so that soldiers, unable to travel to see family this year due to the pandemic, could still enjoy a holiday meal with their fellow soldiers.

Each facility had a theme with the soldiers at HAAF commemorating Back to the Future. The theme at Fort Stewart was Medieval Times and Marne Bistro was decked out as a castle complete with a fire breathing dragon.

Sgt First Class Andrew Plog, the Dining facility manager at Marne Bistro said they purchased 1,500 pounds of pork, turkey and roast beef, duck and shrimp, and fed 600 soldiers at Fort Stewart on Nov24. He said they anticipated serving more soldier Thanksgiving Day.

“We are in the food service industry,” Plog said. “It’s what we like to do. I think it is very important for us to provide this meal that otherwise they might not get.”

Due to COVID-19, Plog said they planned every detail of the event to ensure minimal chance of spreading the virus. Soldiers were required to wear masks while serving or being served their meal and they staggered the meal shifts to allow for practical social distancing.

“We spent a lot of hours preparing,” Plog said. “The soldiers were a bit more surprised and happier overall.”

Private Aaron Jurado said this Thanksgiving would be his first one away from home.

“It is a little bit hard being away from my parents and grandparents,” he said. “But this actually makes up for it a little bit. Nothing beats being home, but this actually made me happy. There are folks here that are now family. I was just assigned a new roommate and it already feels like I’ve known him my whole life. I’ve made a lot of friends in my unit.”

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Soldiers in the Marne community eat a holiday meal on Fort Stewart, Georgia, Nov. 24, 2020. Many Soldiers were unable to travel this year because of the pandemic, making the dining facility holiday meals prepared by talented Army culinary specialists an important way to commemorate the holiday with friends and teammates. Photo by Sgt. Zoe Garbarino
Spc. Leslie Fashen, a Los Angeles native and culinary specialist with 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, prepares fresh fries for a Thanksgiving meal at the Spartan Dining Facility on Fort Stewart, Georgia, Nov. 24, 2020. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Justin A. Naylor
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