CAMP SPEICHER, Iraq — U.S. troops here celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday
with a turkey dinner in a dining hall strung with red, orange and brown paper
Each long table was topped with a watermelon carved in the shape of a basket,
filled with grapes and squash.
At the center of the room was a giant "horn of plenty — a huge bread basket
made of dough and glazed with gelatin.
The U.S. military puts on traditional holiday celebrations for about 165,000
military personnel stationed across Iraq.
President Bush, who visited troops in Iraq on Thanksgiving after the U.S.
invasion in 2003, called several servicemembers from Camp David to extend his
For troops across Iraq, it was a time to reflect and celebrate a tradition as
American as the apple pie that could be found at the dessert table, next to the
Sgt. Shawn Tostado, member of the 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion from
Sacramento, said this was his first Thanksgiving since his mother died in
"This is the first holiday Ive had without her. This is my extended family
now, he said. "These deployments are harder on the family back home, I think,
celebrating the holidays without us. Were busy here constantly, but they
Spc. Kevin Lipinski, a member of the 59th Military Company who trains Iraqi
police in Baghdad, went without sleep Wednesday as he spent the day trying to
get back to his base in a southeastern area of the capital in time for
Thanksgiving after a week of medical treatment in Germany.
Lipinski had suffered hearing loss following a mortar attack.
"I just really wanted to get home to my unit, said the 27yearold from Elgin,
Ill. "Theyre the closest thing to family we have out here.
Gayan Thusitha, a Sri Lankan contract worker serving food to U.S. troops, said,
"Americans eat a lot of turkey. Actually, they eat a lot of everything, now that
I think about it.
•Suspected alQaeda militants commandeered Iraqi army vehicles and attacked
U.S.backed Sunni fighters in south Baghdad during a gunbattle that left 18
people dead, police told the Associated Press.
•Mortars or rockets slammed into the U.S.protected Green Zone in the Iraqi
capital. There were no fatalities, but some people were wounded, said Maj. Brad
Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman. He declined to give details.