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AR RAMADI, Iraq ? 1st Sgt. Daniel Calderon, 1st. sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, serves Marines during Thanksgiving here at the Hurricane Point chow hall Nov. 24.

Photo by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

3/7 Marines take time to give thanks

24 Nov 2005 | Cpl. Shane Suzuki 2nd Marine Division

With their deployment nearing its halfway mark, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment are looking forward to spending their holiday season in Ar Ramadi in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Recently, these Marines celebrated Thanksgiving and took a moment to understand what giving thanks is really all about.“Spending holidays away from family is hard,” said Cpl. Daniel Skelton, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Battalion’s temporary holding facility. “But, if I have to spend it away from my family, I am glad I get to spend it with my Marine brothers.” For many of the Marines here, Thanksgiving was just another day filled with work and preparation for the upcoming elections in December. However, when dinner was served, many Marines here took a moment to reflect on what they are thankful for and what they can look forward to in the months ahead. “For us to be able to work here and work with these Marines is something to be thankful for,” said Cpl. Daniel Brunkenhoefer, a food service specialist. “I think everyone’s job here is tough, but when it comes down to it, we are doing something really important and I am glad to be here doing my part.”The cooks and food service workers across Iraq served more than 500,000 pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving, along with gravy, ham, potatoes, cranberries and other traditional fare. The Marines were also treated to grape juice and other treats not usually available during time spent in a war zone.“We just try to bring a little bit of America here for the holidays,” said Brunkenhoefer. “It’s hard enough being away from your family and friends this time of year. We just try and make it a little easier to be away.”As they did for the Marine Corps Birthday, Marines lined up for the food inside the chow hall and waited to be served by the senior enlisted men of the battalion. The senior Marines allowing the junior Marines to eat first is a Marine Corps tradition and one that the staff NCOs here follow strictly. “The tradition says something about the Marine Corps and how we take care of each other,” said Gunnery Sgt. Andy Hewitt, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the dining facility. “Us senior guys have been doing this for a while and know how hard it is to be a junior Marine on your first or second deployment. Letting them eat first is a chance to say thanks for their hard work and dedication. Without them, we couldn’t be as successful as we are today.”