Then there was that Thanksgiving...

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Capt MJ, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Sea/air/war story time. What is that Thanksgiving you remember as odd, challenging and memorable because of what and where the needs of the fill-in-the-Service took you that Thursday?

    Among many off-beat Thanksgivings, for me it was the one I hosted as a single Navy lieutenant in Naples, Italy. I had stood in line at the Commissary for the hard-to-get items, pre-ordered my bird, had my mom send me pecans from home state of Georgia, and invited the single officers from my command and many of the Italian staff. Everybody brought something. I had a gas "bombola" stove (hooked to a gas tank on my apartment kitchen balcony, similar to a BBQ grill set-up), whose oven, typical of Italian stoves, had just two heat settings, High and Low. I sat on a stool near the oven, watching the oven thermometer I had stuck inside, opening and closing the oven door to regulate the temp to roast the bird with some hope of success. My landlord's wife was fascinated, and she was excellent at refilling my glass with her family's homemade wine from the slopes of Vesuvio. There was a crazy hodge-podge of food, but the Italians totally understood the concept of "family feast." They gamely tried corn pudding (corn is livestock food in southern Italy) and sweet potato pie (potatoes for dessert?), and the Americans enjoyed homemade sausages from various "parts," and many other Italian dishes. We sent around the corner to the gelateria for gelato for the various pies. We cleared out my living room and set the tables in there, because I had French doors that had an amazing view of the Bay of Pozzuoli, adjacent to the Gulf of Naples. I had no TV, so it was all about conversation. The bi-lingual noise and general family feeling were wonderful, and though I missed home, it was indeed Thanksgiving.
     
  2. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Hope you made a Pecan Pie (Forget Pumpkin). Ever since living in the South I have loved it. And Key Lime is great also although hard to find in New England but not sure it is traditional Thanksgiving.
     
  3. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt Member

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    Wish I had a great sea story to share. What I can share has more to do with the transition to military life more than anything. My first Thanksgiving as a Marine was the last I ever spent celebrating with my parents in the house I grew up in. That first Thanksgiving as a Marine I was in Quantico at the Infantry Officer Course. I drove home on liberty and my fiancé (who was from the Midwest) flew out to spend the holiday with me and her soon to be in-laws. We had a wonderful time. I had to be back in Quantico Sunday night and the trip back was one of the worst I have ever experienced with torrential rain/ sleet/ snow and incredible grid lock of the NY, NJ, Philly, Washington DC traffic. I didn't get back until well after midnight and had to be ready to go at zero-dark-thirty Monday morning. Still, it was worth it!

    That was the only Thanksgiving during my service that I spent with my parents. I was stationed on the West Coast, married and starting a family. My parents were on the east coast. My inlaws were in the Midwest. Logistics were just too difficult and expensive.

    A cool thing that happened as a result: all the junior officers and their families end up celebrating the holidays with each other. Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, promotions, births, christening, etc were all great celebrations with our military "family." We become surrogate family members and it is, in my mind, one of the great things about life in the service. You just don't see the same type of closeness in the civilian world very often.
     
  4. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Bittersweet chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Still make it. Gram's recipe.
     
  5. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    I was not in any military service but will tell you about my sons 3* year: Wednesday night, before Thanksgiving: they'd just bought a car, a Honda Civic, which they shared, and were boppin' along down I25 on their way to DIA with three other people in the car, including one son's future wife. Well, they got sideswiped by an "undocumented alien" and the car got rolled into a ditch upside-down on the side of the expressway!!! All inside were ok but the car was out of use for some time.

    Some other cadets drove by, picked up the other three passengers who continued on to DIA. Sons called sponsor dad who lived nearby but was going away. He drove out to get them, helped oversee the car towing, and then, gave them the car keys to his new jeep and said, "Have a great TG, food and house all yours!" and left for his vacation.

    Well, they called American Airlines to see about getting a refund of their tickets home (about $1150 for the two of them), and American, when they heard about the accident and that the kids were cadets at USAFA, yes, refunded their tickets, then offered them free seats on TG morning. This fencersmother has been forever grateful that they survived the accident with just bruising, and that their passengers were unharmed. And that they made it... home. Our last Thanksgiving where the whole family was together.
     
  6. Wild Blue Yonder

    Wild Blue Yonder Member

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    Gut wrenching story Mom... Betting they were hit around the Larkspur area on I-25? seems to be many a wreck there.
    Anyway, this will be the first time my DS will not be home for Thanksgiving, but I am so proud of his service to his country. We will provide a place setting at the dinner table to honor him. Hopefully, others will do this as well to honor their heroes.
    WBY
     
  7. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    My bad: it was their 2* year. Poor fencersmother is getting senile.
     
  8. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    We've always had a big crowd in for TG and one year hosted several of the kids' ADAF friends who were at AFIT at the time (5 hours away). Well, at TG, we play a game which I make up annually called "Know Your Neighbor." Since many of the folks at my table are singletons far from home, it kind of breaks the ice. Ten questions like: What would your neighbor on the right have always in his/her refrig (with corresponding answers for the "Expose Round." Make up a Haiku about your favorite Christmas present. What is the closest holiday to the birthday (no asking when) of your neighbor on the left? Etc.

    Well, these AFIT kids approached it like a TEST!!!!!!!!!!! It was hilarious!
     
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  9. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

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    My only Thanksgiving overseas. We were deployed to Sigonella in 1988, and there was a lull in operations. Thanksgiving dinner was laid on at the wardroom in the BOQ, and every officer found a bottle of wine to bring to dinner. Plus, everyone wore coat and tie at dinner. My crew, though, drew the alert aircrew, so we were alcohol free and in flight suits. We still joined in the spirit, wearing formal shirts and bow ties underneath. Spending the holiday with my brothers in the squadron was as family a time that I ever had.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    In probably 2007 I was on patrol on a 210' cutter around the Florida Straits. We were engaged in alien migrant interdiction operations. Around Thanksgiving we had somewhere between 100 - 200 Cuban migrants onboard. For some reason they have been told that the Coast Guard didn't work on Thanksgiving (unfortunately, that wasn't true). They had already been onboard for a week or two, after being reviewed by a representative of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. State Department was working with the Cuban government to determine when they could be repatriated.

    Early on the morning of Thanksgiving the migrants told our crew they wanted TV and they wanted to be interviewed by the news (wasn't going to happen). They were also unhappy with their beans and rice (which they threw on the flight deck). We were told that if their demands weren't met by noon they would riot.

    Well, "riot" they did, but not right at noon. They crew was already aware of the situation on the flight deck. So as some migrants stated to tear down the tent, most of our 75 person crew showed up with charged fire hoses, OC spray (nasty pepper spray) and batons. Most of the migrants (especially the women and children, and older men) wanted no part of it. But as the decent size group of angry migrants were surrounded, they were convinced to put down the support bars they had torn from the tends (as weapons), and they backed down.

    And then a day or two later…. they went back to Cuba.

    That was probably the most interesting Thanksgiving experience while I was in….

    and the moral of the story…. the Coast Guard does, in fact, work on Thanksgiving.
     
  11. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    Oh my. One of THOSE Thanksgivings, memorable for duty reasons. I am sure many of us have had a few of those too.
     
  12. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    One Thanksgiving, we had just brought home a 4 year old son from a 2 week hospital stay five days before, had twins that were just 2, a daughter 7 months old. Cat had kittens the day before, and found out we were expecting (again), AND that our house was sold on that day before.

    We ate dinner at the local hotel. Seemed safer than being at home.
     
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  13. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Don't ever, ever, ever try to drive your Mid back to Annapolis from Thanksgiving Leave. Took us twelve hours for a five hour drive the first time. Never did it again. Take the train or a plane.
     
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  14. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ Member

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    The Northeast Corridor Holiday Special. Add some "wintry mix" for maximum impact.
     
  15. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    ^*A nice topper to that would be a kid with a weak bladder.

    Yes, if at all possible, steer totally clear of anything within 50 miles of I-95, anything called a "Beltway", or a bridge which requires a toll to cross, esp on Sunday after TG.
     
  16. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    Not sure if this counts... . I've alluded to the Thanksgiving during my plebe year, not being able to go home. Actually I was un-invited by my mother, who I thought was still angry with me about choosing USNA, but it turned out, later, that she was keeping the separation from my dad from me, and didn't want ME being caught up in that. All my buddies were, of course, going home for the first time since leaving for I-day. Everyone just assumed I was too. I didn't want my friends feeling bad for me, though, having to stay in Mother B over break - I have always hated the shame of pity. (Remember: Dark Ages of November 1989, no computers, iPhones, video games, etc.) My grandparents who lived on the Delmarva peninsula were going to Bermuda that week. So, I participated in conversations about sweet potato pie, brining turkeys, the best green bean casseroles, etc. without lying, but definitely being evasive. Finally I told my roommate that I'd be staying in Mother B over the break, and why. That was Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and by then it was too late to buy a ticket anywhere (which is why I thought it was okay to tell her).

    The next day I got a call from my sponsor. I remember I was kind of peeved, because there was this second who kind of had it in for me and made me do 91 pushups (his class year) every time I entered the wardroom, which was where the phone was. My sponsor mom and dad invited me to Thanksgiving with their family. I never would have asked - I was too polite (and frankly a little self-deprecating). They even invited me to stay overnight at their house if I could get leave, which I did.

    One of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had, ever. I was one of 14 +/- people - lively but warm. Almost all of them, including my sponsor parents, were servicemembers, so they all really got it about making gatherings when and where they could. I'm usually pretty talkative, but that day I just listened to all the stories. Delicious turkey, really juicy. My sponsor mom made this AMAZING roasted-turkey gravy, where she described roasting a carcass with some veggies in the oven until it was dark brown, then simmering everything for a few hours, skimming it, and using that for the broth. Best gravy I've EVER had, even including fancy restaurants. Sweet potato pie and chocolate bourbon pecan pie - I still make the latter and think about LCDR Sponsormom and CPT Sponsordad every time. That night I slept, between sheets in a real bed, for 12 hours. I took a 10-minute shower the next morning. They treated me like their own. The experience was so powerful for me that it played into my decision to leave USNA. I have not experienced that kind of unconditional acceptance and shared camaraderie since - even though I have great friends and colleagues now. I like to think that one weekend made a powerful difference in my own priorities, and now I really value treating people well and kindly above all else. I also try to pay that gift forward with my own students as often as I can, when, for whatever reason, they can't make it home for a holiday. I wasn't part of the Navy family for very long, but the time I was there was important to making me the kind of person I am now.
     
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  17. AF6872

    AF6872 Member

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    Try a Plebe in the car trying to make formation (totally freaking out). Weak Bladder was the least of her concerns. She did call and they told her everyone was in the same situation. When I was midnight NCOIC I used to just log it that they called in and would be late. No problem. They do recognize the situations. I did have all three children for Thanksgiving this year and projecte all four for Christmas (son in law included back from deployment) this year. It may be the last we are all together for the Holidays. It is a tough life but many rewards.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015

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