By Ellie Kaufman, CNN
Updated: Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:07:14 GMT
Almost 60,000 pounds of roasted turkeys, over 38,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and over 68,000 pies and cakes were shipped around the world by the Department of Defense's Logistics Agency to make sure American service members stationed in the US and across the globe will have a Thanksgiving meal.
The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support team starts working on coordinating the annual Thanksgiving meal for the troops in March, a release from the Department of Defense said. This year, the team faced the same global supply chain issues the rest of the world is dealing with because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they still managed to get key Thanksgiving foods to bases around the world.
"We have been working with our vendors well in advance of the holiday to reduce chances that the necessary items won't be available on the big day," Robin Whaley, DLA Troop Support's Subsistence chief of customer operations for the continental United States, said in a statement.
Because of their hard work and planning, an estimated 5,706 whole turkeys, 59,666 pounds of roasted turkeys, 38,400 pounds of sweet potatoes, 68,465 pounds of pies and cakes and 23,461 gallons of eggnog were delivered to bases around the world including in Japan, Korea, Qatar, the Philippines, Guam and Singapore.
"Thanksgiving is one of the most important meals we work on all year," Col. Larry Dean, director of the Subsistence supply chain at DLA Troop Support, said in a statement. "As a proud member of the Army who has enjoyed these meals when I could not be home with my family. It means so much to have that taste of home on Thanksgiving when you can't be there."
Defense Secretary Llloyd Austin sent a message to the troops the day before Thanksgiving, thanking them for their service ahead of the holiday.
"This week, as Americans gather with family and friends, they will give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy as a country. And I know they count all of you and your families among those blessings," Austin said in the statement.
Earlier in the week, Austin echoed the same message while meeting with US military members based at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates while on a trip to the Middle East.
"I just wanted to come by and say thank you," Austin said on Monday, when he met with US military service members at the base before heading back to the US. "I want you to convey to your families on behalf of Lloyd Austin, that we are grateful for your sacrifices."
Austin said he knew this wasn't the first holiday these service members have missed.
"We're coming up on the holiday period like this, and my guess is that some of you have missed a number of holidays since you've been in the military, and you need to know that we're grateful for your sacrifices. Your families need to know that we're grateful for their sacrifices," Austin said.