JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, –
Thanksgiving might have been just another routine meal at the Dining Facility for the deployed members of the 438th Air Expeditionary unit stationed at the Air Force Base in Kabul, Afghanistan. Instead, thanks to some Lowcountry Warrior teamwork, creativity and determination, it turned into a feast for 300.
"Our D-FAC is a NATO run facility and they really didn't have anything special planned for our Thanksgiving holiday," said Chief Master Sgt. Tonia Savidge, superintendent, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. "We decided that just wasn't going to cut it for us."
So Chief Savidge and her Charleston Wingmen, Master Sgt. Robert Carlberg, 437 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Technical Sgt. Robert Moore, 437 AMXS, Master Sgt. James Curley, 437th Maintenance Squadron, Master Sgt. Jamie Brown, 437 AMXS, Master Sgt. Pete Tascione 437 AMXS, Master Sgt. Cedric Warren 437 MXS and Master Sgt. Carol Poindexter, 437 Maintenance Operations Squadron took matters into their own hands.
"I received an email from Sergeant Tascione during the first week of October, asking if we could help out," said Master Sgt. Carlos Guerrero, 437 AMXS (Blue AMU). "So, Chief Master Sgt. Robert Scarlett and I took up a collection here in Charleston and we were able to buy two turkey fryers and about eight drums of cooking oil and a few other supplies and get them to Afghanistan in time for Thanksgiving."
As Thanksgiving approached, it became clear that this wasn't going to be some small affair for a few close friends.
"We had a team of about 12 folks who stayed up until around 3 a.m. cooking the night before Thanksgiving," Chief Savidge said. "There was a set-up team, a decoration team, a serving team and a cleanup team. We had about 50 people who made this event a success."
Success culminated in a feast that included 25 fried turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans and macaroni and cheese as well as an assortment of cakes and pies. A large part of the meal and decorations came via "donations from different Air Force units and organizations from back in the United States," said Chief Savidge. "We also received some support from our Dining Facility which helped us get the turkeys and other foods.
"Our wing is a joint, combined organization with U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. We also have Combine Joint Statement of Requirement Teams from Canada, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia, and Croatia on our team." said Chief Savidge. "Additionally, French and British forces joined us for our meal as well. This was the first Thanksgiving meal for many of these allies and by all accounts, it was a huge success!"
Chief Savidge has been deployed since April. 2010 and plans on returning home to Charleston and the 628th sometime next year. She says she is honored to serve with the men and women of the 438th and she has a motto: "Our Airmen make me proud every single day and Thanksgiving was no exception."