CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Thanksgiving is commonly known as a time for families to enjoy food, fun, laughter and to reflect on what they have to be thankful for. When service members are deployed to locations thousands of miles away from home, having a table decorated with delicious food and a cornucopia centerpiece is the last thing they expect to enjoy while defending their country.
Service members here were able to enjoy a similar Thanksgiving experience that many of them never knew would happen.
The Association of the United States Army Kuwait Chapter sponsored a day of relaxation and Thanksgiving dinner for service members assigned to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Nov. 28. The event was held at the Hilton Kuwait Resort located in Kuwait City, Kuwait.
Service members were bused from the base to the resort and allowed to enjoy a full range of the hotel’s amenities including the spa, private beach, volleyball court and most importantly treated to a full dinner spread catered by the hotel.
“It’s nice to get away from work,” said Pfc. Carlton Bailey, 160th Signal Brigade. “I didn’t expect anything like this in Kuwait.”
Carlton, a native of Washington, D.C, explained that the part he enjoyed most about the day was the view of the ocean. He also took a moment to reflect on being home and spending time with his family.
“My family comes together at my grandparent’s house,” said Carlton, a two-year Army veteran. “We eat and have a good time together.”
First Lt. Paige Brink, who works as a military liaison with the AUSA Kuwait Chapter, shared some fond memories of her family during the holiday and how this event fills that void.
“Every Thanksgiving we go to my aunt’s house in Indiana,” said Brink, assigned to 9th Theater Gateway. "It’s a mad house! My mother who’s a teacher brings some of her students who have no place to go. I miss being around family, but AUSA pulls you in as a family so I get to share that same experience.”
As a military liaison, Brink was involved in the planning of the event and she was pleased with the outcome.
“It’s wonderful” said Brink. “I’ve worked with most of the AUSA members and they really enjoy putting this [Thanksgiving celebration] together for the service members.”
As service members lounged along the beach and enjoyed many of the outdoor activities Brink made it a point to show excitement for the overall atmosphere of the setting. She simply stated, “It’s beautiful here today!”
Randy Williams, a retired Army colonel, currently serves as the president for the AUSA Kuwait Chapter. He shared his passion for ensuring that service members are able to enjoy themselves even though they’re deployed.
“We wanted to do something that gives service members a touch of home,” said Williams.
The highlight of the event was the dinner which was held in an event tent that was well lit by many crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. As service members made their way through the buffet style line and sat around tables accented with satin bowed chairs, the room seemed to get small as it was filled to capacity from all in attendance.
Williams explained that the purpose of sponsoring events like these is to get service members off base and give them a chance to enjoy Kuwait.
AUSA is a private nonprofit educational organization that supports America’s Army- active, National Guard, Reserve, civilians, Wounded Warriors, veterans, and family members. Along with holiday functions, AUSA provides numerous professional development opportunities at a variety of events both local and national.