News: Special Forces Soldiers and families celebrate Thanksgiving
Story by Maj. April Olsen
By. Maj. April N. Olsen
5th Special Forces Group Public Affairs
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Special Forces Soldiers and families came together on Nov. 25 to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season with a Thanksgiving meal served by 5th Special Forces Group senior leaders at the award-winning Oasis Inn.
"It's our time to reflect on the great things our Soldiers and their families do for the United States," said Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Voller.
The dining facility crew of Soldiers and civilians spent days preparing the meal, with some staying overnight to monitor the cooking turkeys, said Sgt. 1st Class Orlander Jinks, assistant manager for the Oasis Inn.
Jinks said his team of Soldier and civilian cooks, which represents each of 5th Group's five battalions, worked to ensure that every one in Group had a meal befitting members of the Special Forces family.
"They really believe in the Special Operations aura," Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Voller said. "We are the best at what we do... always put the extra effort in to make sure we stay above the cut."
Voller, the Group Support Battalion command sergeant major, said support Soldiers are usually behind the scenes, providing necessary assistance. Holiday meals afford them the opportunity to step into the spotlight and showcase their talent.
"This group is very tight and takes a lot of pride in what they do," Voller said.
Voller shared that pride in service as he took a turn behind the counter dishing turkey, roast beef and stuffing to Soldiers, their families and other 5th Group supporters who made their way through the line.
One family going through the line was sharing their first Thanksgiving with 5th Group.
Maj. Elmer Bontrager and his wife, Janice, said they take their children to eat in their unit dining facility every year at Thanksgiving.
"It's a tradition for us," he said. "We've done it every year but ... when I was deployed for Thanksgiving."
Janice quickly reminded him that she took the kids anyway, maintaining the Bontrager tradition 15 years and counting.
Many 5th Group families have spent multiple holidays apart due to the high optempo that accompanies assignment in a Special Forces unit.
"I like to look at the unit as an extended family," said Lt. Col. Joel Woodward, 1st Battalion commander, who has spent his last five Thanksgiving meals deployed.
Woodward said he enjoyed the time spent on the serving line.
"I think it's symbolic of how we serve our Soldiers in general," he said. "It's an opportunity to visit with them informally as they go through the line. It cements the fact that we're all part of a family."