JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers and families from 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, gathered at the Raider Inn dining facility, Nov. 27, for their last traditional Thanksgiving meal before the unit’s inactivation next year.
To celebrate a holiday known for a large meal as its centerpiece, the menu featured roasted turkey with gravy, black peppered steamship round of beef and honey glazed baked ham. The culinary trio was complemented by a selection of side dishes and desserts from grilled asparagus to chocolate-covered strawberries, offering something for everyone. There were even edible sculpture displays made entirely from chocolate by the culinary team.
“We’ve been preparing for a couple of weeks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Pieniazek, the dining facility manager. Twenty soldiers from 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4-2 SBCT, 7th Inf. Div., worked through the night and into the morning preparing the menu items, she added.
“Their food is going to show how much pride they take in their job and that humbles me,” said Pieniazek, for whom the greatest personal compliment is seeing soldiers happy at their work.
As is customary, brigade and subordinate unit leadership served the meal for the duration of the feast, doling out generous portions to the Raiders.
There was a time to celebrate and a time for reflection. Sgt. Joseph Longoria, a food operations noncommissioned officer, volunteered more than his food services skills for the occasion.
“This is a painting to memorialize fallen soldiers that we’ve had over our combat tours both in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Longoria, describing the mixed media image he created, hanging on the wall behind him.
Three feet by eight, the painting is graphite and acrylic on two canvases joined together. Titled “We Will Never Forget,” it depicts scenes and faces from the brigade’s history.
It took about 20 hours to complete, Longoria said, adding that the project was a lot of work but a lot of fun to complete in a short period of time.
“[It’s also] my memorial to our brigade,” said Longoria.
The 4-2 SBCT, 7th Inf. Div., is scheduled to be inactivated as part of the Department of the Army force structure and stationing decisions associated with active-component end-strength reduction announced in June.