Many military members, especially newly enlisted service members in Alaska, may be far away from home for the very first time this holiday season.

"There's been a lot of new guys that I haven't had a chance to see and a lot of them it is their first Thanksgiving away from family here in Alaska," Capt. Bradley Townsend with U.S. Army Alaska said. "So, it's going to be really nice to serve them that chow and put a smile on their face."

A tradition that spans decades in the military is senior leaders serving meals to junior personnel during major holidays.

"It's a chance for everyone to kind of come through and for the leaders of those organizations to get a chance to really serve the soldiers," Lt. Col. Joshua Gaspard said. "Often in some of our formations we'll say, you know, leaders eat last and so this is a chance for us to, you know, kind of put all the soldiers first, let them get the first cuts of everything, you know, the best stuff."

Sgt. David Erickson is serving in Alaska from North Carolina. He says the gesture does not go unnoticed.

"It's pretty cool to have pretty much our leadership there for us," Erickson said. "They're kind of like our moms and dads if you will."

It's a small moment in time to say thank you to all the soldiers, airmen and especially their families who sacrifice their time to give to our country. 

"It's a privilege to kind of come out here, engage some of the younger soldiers and see what's going on and wish them a happy Thanksgiving when they're far away from family and things like that," Gaspard said. "Just kind of give back a little bit."

"Personally, I mean, it means a lot to come down here and spend time with the soldiers who don't have any family up here in Alaska," Townsend said. "So, it gives us a chance as higher-level leadership to eat and have food with the soldiers, serve them Thanksgiving dinner and then, you know, just kind of see how they're doing on a regular basis in Alaska."

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