AL ASAD, Iraq --
On Thanksgiving Day, along with the classic taste of turkey and mashed potatoes, the troops were given a little taste of entertainment from home.
The United Service Organization brought some entertainment to the troops aboard Al Asad to prove to the hard working service members how much they are appreciated.
Service members could not help but laugh when faced with the stylings of Wilmer Valderama from That ‘70s Show and other comedians during the USO show held at the Al Asad Theater. Service members also had a unique opportunity to meet and greet some Professional Golfers Association golfers, which included Tom Lehman and Butch Harmon.
The Thanksgiving festivities were started with Gen. James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who preceded the USO show by wishing the troops a happy holiday.
“We want you to know that you are making a difference,” said Cartwright. “We are hoping that we can take you back (today) to your living room to when you had good memories.”
Valderama hosted the comedy performance that featured Russel Peters and was accentuated by Mayra Veronica, a For Him Magazine model, who expressed her gratitude for the service members.
“Thanks to you guys, America is the best country in the world,” said Valderama. “Today we are just trying to bring a little piece of home to you.”
Despite being deployed, the dining facilities ensured that the troops were provided with the best meal possible. The troops were delighted to see that the dining facilities provided a Thanksgiving meal including nearly everything in the cornucopia. Adding to their surprise was a greeting by Donald Winters, the Secretary of the Navy, at the Camp Ripper mess hall. He spoke to service members and encouraged them to continue doing good things and pressing on.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world today but over here supporting the men and women who protect and support our country,” said Winters.
Service members were impressed with the support shown by the Secretary of the Navy on Thanksgiving Day.
“I thought very highly of the Secretary of the Navy’s visit,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Monogan, a motor transportation mechanic with Regimental Combat Team 2. “It took a lot of time out of his schedule to come see my Marines on Thanksgiving and I appreciate it.”
After laughing until their stomachs ached and then filling them with a Thanksgiving feast, the service members spent the evening with some seasoned professionals.
“This is a Thanksgiving I personally will not forget” said Master Sgt. Gary Gustafson, the Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 senior enlisted advisor. “How often is it you get to chat with David Feherty, Tom Lehman and Tom Watson all in the same evening? For them to make the journey to Iraq on Thanksgiving made it even more special, they could’ve been home with their families, but they chose to visit us – that’s class.”
At the end of the day despite being away from their families for Thanksgiving Day, service members can lay their heads down and be thankful for a lot; good food, entertainment and the brothers around them.