Thousands of our neighbors with the Third Infantry Division are kicking off the holiday season in Iraq. You don't usually think of a Thanksgiving feast when you think of Army food, but we talked with one soldier via satellite who had a big, tasty Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. He says his family was the only thing missing.
They're far from home, serving in a war zone, but members of the Third Infantry Division's First Brigade Combat Team in Trikrit aren't letting that spoil their holiday spirit.
"Just be myself. Just take what I know to do at home and bring it with me," said Sgt. Frederick Stoner. "I'm not going to let it change just cause I'm in a different place. Just bring it with me."
And the Army brought the food. "Don't compare to Mom's, but it was okay," said Sgt. Stoner. "Being in the conditions we're at, it was okay."
And conditions, they say, are a lot better than during the invasion in 2003, when Stoner says it was "just MREs. All day."
Not so this Thanksgiving. Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Speicher were treated to hot meals, including turkey, mashed potatoes, even crab legs.
The only thing missing for Sgt. Stoner? "I have my wife Carla and my two kids, Darien and Frederick Junior. Lot of family and friends there."
With a couple months yet before they come home, families stateside will also celebrate Christmas without their soldiers. Sgt. Stoner only has one Christmas wish this year: "Just that everybody be safe and return home safely, that'd be the best of everything, the best gift of all."
And family is what the holidays are all about. "I miss you all, I'll be home soon," said Sgt. Stoner. "Love you. God bless."
This is not the first time Stoner has had to spend the holidays overseas. And he says there's nothing like the feeling you get when you're back on American soil with your family.