AL ASAD, Iraq -- For the majority of U.S. service members in Iraq, Thanksgiving was another day, business as usual.
For Sgt. 1st Class Eldon Casner, and his son, Army Pfc. Michael Casner, Thanksgiving was the first time they saw each other in six months, and they celebrated with a special dinner in a security guard tent at Al Asad, Iraq. What was important to them was not the surroundings, but each other.
If not for the Thanksgiving dinner, the Lewistown, Penn., natives would not have seen each other for another six months.
Eldon has been deployed for almost a year with Task Force Freedom of the 11th Army Combat Regiment. He said he left his family six months before Michael deployed and has spent the majority of his time in the city of Mosul. There, he worked with active intelligence and faced the constant threat of attack from insurgents.
Michael said he volunteered to come out here and join his buddies with the 1st Battalion 109th Mechanized Infantry Regiment. His main duty here is to provide security for Al Asad.
“This is the first time we’ve been together for a long time,” said Eldon. “A couple Soldiers from my unit were coming to Al Asad and I got a chance to join them.”
Eldon stressed it was an amazing opportunity to be able to eat turkey and stand guard with his son on Thanksgiving.
“If it had not been for this opportunity, they would have had to wait another six months to see each other,” said Michael. “We’ve been joking, just enjoying each others’ company. It’s been awhile since we had a good laugh together.”
Michael said he receives support from his family back home, but stressed it was awesome to see his father on Thanksgiving.
“I volunteered to come out here,” said Michael. “I didn’t want my buddies here without me. But, I still miss my family.”
Michael said he has had a really good experience serving with the Marines at Al Asad, which is predominantly a Marine Corps installation.
“There are no cliques here, we are all focused on the mission,” said Michael. “Marines, Army, Navy, we are all one team.”
Eldon said he was extremely proud of his son and proud to stand guard with him on Thanksgiving. Despite the war, he and his son were there for each other and able to share a slice of home, if only for a day.