NAWA, Afghanistan — A Marine infantry platoon with Echo Co. 2nd Battalion 7th Marines was pleasantly surprised today after they were greeted with an amazing Thanksgiving feast upon returning from a 12-hour combat patrol.
The platoon, which had just left another Thanksgiving celebration Taliban fighters gave them, complete with rockets and automatic rifle fire, wasn't expecting much left upon their return to the forward operating base.
"It's really just been an amazing day full of gifts to be thankful for," said 1st Lt. Andrew Smith, the platoon commander for 1st Platoon. "We had a meeting with village elders which gave us a ton of intelligence on things relevant to operations 3 years ago, then the Taliban threw us a spectacular fireworks show."
"Not to mention the meal the DFAC cooks prepared especially for us on this day," he added.
"We all figured the fobbits would eat all the good food for Thanksgiving," said Lance Cpl. Evan Wingard, a team leader. "But when we walked into the DFAC, I couldn't believe what I saw."
Inside the small dining facility, the Marines were greeted with the warm smells of freshly eaten turkey, and delicious aromas of stuffing and gravy still stuck to paper plates in a nearby trash can. The tables were filled with a wide array of Otis Spunkmeyer muffins, Nutri-Grain bars, Pop-Tarts, other Thanksgiving favorites — and the fridge was stocked with a wide assortment of delicious tasting beer with no alcohol content.
"It's like they sacrificed their Thanksgiving dinner because they knew we were working so hard out there," said Pfc. Ian Erwin. "As far as the eye could see it was near beer and Otis Spunkmeyer muffins. I hardly ever get to have any of those in the chow hall, so it really felt special, almost like I was back home."
Most forward operating bases serve turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, and other everyday fare from back home. In Nawa however, the grunts were given a special — and more appreciated — Thanksgiving meal of muffins and Nutri-grain bars, served by senior SNCO's who greatly valued their service.
"Hey Devil Dog," said Gunnery Sgt. Ramon Marquez to a lance corporal who had torn into a package of a tasty banana-nut treat. "Why are your daggone cammies dirty? Why the freak are you wearing white frigging daggone socks?"
The Marine dutifully stopped opening the package and turned to address Marquez, telling him that he just "felt so stupid about getting his uniform dirty on patrol."
"I'm definitely going to clean my cammies immediately," said Lance Cpl. Alan Nelson. "Thank God and the United States Marine Corps that there are senior staff NCO's out there that are taking care of us and making sure we're doing the right thing."
"If he didn't stop me from enjoying that muffin, I don't know if I could live with myself."
Official Marine Corps historian Maximilian Uriarte also contributed to this report.