Fort Jackson makes soldiers feel at home for the holidays despite basic training

dinner served to soldiers in basic training away from home

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)– Thanksgiving is about family and being grateful for not only what you have but who you have in your life. And for many of the men and women making the ultimate sacrifice by serving in this country’s military, those special to them are often far away. So Fort Jackson found a way to bring a little bit of home to the soldiers.

The cooking started Thanksgiving Eve and the preparation started in October to feed 1700 soldiers a Thanksgiving meal and for many of them this was their first Thanksgiving away from family.

Private Koby Sanders from Rock Hill last spoke to his family on the first day he arrived at Fort Jackson. “It kind of sucks because I’m away from my family and I don’t get to spend that much time with them,” said Sanders.

The general manager of 134 DFAC, the dining facility for the soldiers in basic training, said providing this meal for the soldiers is important because they’re away from home.

“We got these soldiers away from mom and dad I know we can’t replace mom and dad. and with the staff providing the happiness and excitement we just want to make them not miss home,” said Kenneth Harrison.

More than 80 employees work to keep the soldiers fed while they’re in basic training. But for special occasions like the Thanksgiving meal, it means all hands on deck.

This was also the first time the higher officers served the privates. Company Commander, Frankie Moore, was one of those officers. “It just makes my heart smile, the soldiers will never see anything like this again, for the first time they’re seeing like an anomaly and it’s a great thing for them to see,” said Moore.

GM Harrison added, “It’s all about family so With us being here today for the soldier’s thanksgiving, today we’re their family.”

Many of the soldiers have only been in basic training for about 2 weeks and were surprised to be welcomed with open arms and to see dozens of treats laid out on tables.

“Well you think of basic training being hardcore intense pushing your body to the limit basically training to be a soldier so when I see this I just don’t expect it,” said PVT Sanders.

“This doesn’t’ happen unless it’s a holiday or super supper, which is what ends the training period and they have a chance to have ice cream and cake and stuff like that..well they’ll have all that stuff today,” Harrison explained the soldiers don’t get sweets on a regular.

This dinner was also a chance to remember those soldiers who have already fought battle; there was a place at the table for those soldiers no longer with us.