Serving soldiers and service members a hot Thanksgiving meal at Fort Wainwright

Fort Wainwright service members celebrated the holiday with their military family.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:51 AM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - “I feel like I’m like right back at home because I’m with all my friends and everything,” said Private Second Class Aleah McCallum after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal served at Fort Wainwright’s dining facility.

On Tuesday, November 22, soldiers and servicemembers gathered at the facility for the meal, served by unit commanding officers and senior enlisted leaders.

Lantz Biles managed the preparation for the meal. “We have crab legs, lobster tails, collard greens, mashed potatoes, loaded mashed potatoes, that is, mac and cheese. We have ribeye steaks and an assortment of other cakes,” he said.

Of course, the meal included turkey, the holiday’s iconic staple.

Staff Sergeant Andrew Napier planned ahead, saying, “I’m hoping to just go through and get as much of the meat line as I can.”

“I had ham, turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, and macaroni and collard greens,” said McCallum.

According to Biles, the staff had been hard at work putting this meal together. “My team actually started working on this probably about three days ago, just to prep and prepare everything, season, brine turkeys, just to get this good meal out and put it out for the soldiers.”

A line of hungry soldiers stretched far outside the building, eager to enjoy a meal with their friends.

This event is a tradition on base, as many soldiers have to spend the holiday away from their families. “It’s always cool to see everybody come together, and same deal for Christmas, and they always do a really good job cooking,” Napier said.

Each year carries a different theme. Major General Brian Eifler, Commander of the 11th Airborne Division, explained, “It’s a competition between the dining facility down south in JBER [Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson] and the one here, and so what we do is we judge who has the best food, the best display, the best teamwork, camaraderie, leadership.”

This year, the theme was Game of Thrones, with sigils for Houses Stark, Lannister and Targaryen flying from the ceiling. The Iron Throne was on full display.

The 11th Airborne Division Band played at the event. They plan to head south to JBER on Wednesday, November 23 for that facility’s Thanksgiving event.