Skip to main content

Troops abroad, at home celebrate Thanksgiving

  • President calls 10 troops based in Afghanistan, Iraq and Arabian Sea to thank them
  • Top Iraq general tours bases to wish troops happy Thanksgiving
  • 465,000 pounds of turkey used in meals for Iraq, Afghanistan troops, spokesman says

Washington (CNN) -- Turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, along with a visit by the commanding general in Iraq and a phone call from President Obama, were some of the ways the White House and Pentagon helped U.S. troops overseas celebrate Thanksgiving.

Obama called 10 troops -- two each from the five branches of the military -- based in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arabian Sea to thank them for their service and wish them a happy Thanksgiving, the White House said.

In Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. military commander there, toured several bases and joint security stations to personally tell U.S. troops how much they're appreciated and also wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

At Joint Security Station Nasr Al Salam, west of Baghdad, Odierno spoke to CNN while soldiers played a game of flag football in the muddy field behind him.

Video: General: Morale good in Iraq
Video: Troops celebrate Thanksgiving
Video: Afghanistan turkey drop
Video: Military Thanksgiving dinner

"I go around all the time, but on Thanksgiving I spend more time actually shaking hands and saying hello to everybody because I want to thank them for their service," Odierno said. "I tell them this is our family when you can't be with your family."

The Pentagon's Defense Logistics Agency made plans to ship Thanksgiving meals to roughly 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan this year, according to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell. In order to accommodate military personnel working different shifts, the meals were to be served around the clock at many of the larger military dining facilities in both countries, Morrell said.

Providing Thanksgiving feasts required huge quantities of food, including 63,000 pounds of potatoes, 8,700 cans of cranberry sauce, 61,000 pounds of stuffing and more than 465,000 pounds of turkey, Morrell said.

For dessert, there will be 67,000 pies and cakes.

Morrell said the men and women of the armed forces deserve America's thanks.

"With this, we send to our troops a small reminder of our immeasurable gratitude for all they do to serve our country. We also, of course, convey our hopes for their safe return home," he said.

In Iraq, about 115,000 American troops remain, with plans to withdraw more than half of them by the end of August. There are 68,000 U.S. troops committed to Afghanistan, and Obama is expected to announce next week the deployment of additional troops to the country.

In the United States, dozens of active duty sailors celebrated the holiday at the first Thanksgiving "Supper for Sailors" hosted by the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. After an opening blessing by a Navy chaplain, the sailors tucked into a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing and green beans while television screens in the background broadcast football games.

CNN's Dan Lothian, Mohammed Jamjoom and Elaine Quijano contributed to this story.