Thanksgiving ‘families’ enjoy festive feasts

USO Stuttgart hosts about 400 garrison community members to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner at the USO Center on Panzer Kaserne, Nov. 24, 2016. Photo by John Reese, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

By John Reese
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Thanksgiving was celebrated on U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s Panzer Kaserne at a variety of venues, Nov. 22-24, with all of the trimmings and plenty of volunteers serving chow to single service members, civilians and retirees.

Beginning the traditional feasts was for the Better Opportunities for Single Servicemembers (BOSS) program, held at the Galaxy Bowling Center, Nov. 22. A catered dinner turkey, steak and plenty of sides filled up the dozens of hungry attendees. Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation leaders, joined by the garrison command team, Col. Glenn K. Dickenson and Command Sgt. Maj. Mariano Z. Alverez, manned a line.

“I’ve got the best steak in the house, just what you want,” Alverez said, encouraging the junior enlisted from all branches to save room on their plates as they passed through the line. He added generous portions of beef to as Dickenson dished out portions of yams.

“This is an awesome event,” said Alverez. “It’s a good opportunity to give something back to the single Soldiers and show them how much we care about them and love them.”

BOSS participants had the opportunity to bowl a few games after dinner.

View BOSS Thanksgiving event photos here.

Thanksgiving was served at the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Dining Facility on Panzer Kaserne by various command leaders throughout the day, Nov. 23, 2016. Photo by Holly DeCarlo-White
Thanksgiving was served at the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Dining Facility on Panzer Kaserne by various command leaders throughout the day, Nov. 23, 2016. Photo by Holly DeCarlo-White

The second big meal, Nov. 23, was held at the 10th Special Forces Group’s dining facility and featured several pigs slow cooked barbecue-style, served-up by officers and noncommissioned officers in dress blues. The dining area was decorated with fall colors and rearranged fest-style to accommodate more patrons than usual. Diners at this event were a mixture of service members on lunch breaks, civilian employees working on the garrison footprint, and retirees and local nationals who wished to share the quintessential American meal with the military community they’d once served. The diners were joined by a few local Bürgermeisters who had just concluded a tour of garrison facilities.

The third and final feast, hosted by the USO in its offices on the third floor of Bldg. 2915 on Thanksgiving Day, was so well-received that it spilled down to the second floor, where some diners ate.

As the dinner got fully underway, Jenni Franklin, USO programs and volunteer coordinator, sent a live message on the garrison’s Facebook page to share the holiday cheer.

“We’re here until four o’clock or until the food runs out,” Franklin said. “I hope you’ll join us.”

Volunteers cooked turkeys in ovens in the USO kitchens and deep fryers outside. The aroma of frying turkeys invited passers-by to come in and be part of the USO’s Thanksgiving family. The food, too, was generously donated by volunteers. In addition to the main courses and side, a long table loaded with assorted desserts was constantly emptied and refilled.

One of the volunteers, a guest at the Panzer Hotel, spent the entire afternoon serving potatoes and stuffing, and again, as at the two previous meals, the garrison commander manned the serving line for most of the day, this time loading plates with the two kinds of turkey. To-go boxes were filled for personnel who had to remain at their duty stations.

After everyone ate their fill, diners were invited to take leftovers. No one left hungry.

View USO Thanksgiving day photos here.