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November 20, 2014 at 12:26pm

AUSA and PLU to host JBLM soldiers for Thanksgiving dinner

PLU will host 120 soldiers from Joint Base Lewis McChord for a Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 26. Photo credit: John Froschauer/PLU

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The traditions of military Thanksgiving dinners were borne out of necessity. In earlier times when travel options were limited and the continuation of training took precedent over time off, most servicemembers remained on duty during the holidays.
With times of war and overseas duty as exceptions, most military members today are afforded the opportunity to travel home for the holiday and gladly oblige. Still, some are required to work, and some choose to remain at installations for various reasons. Those who do are the objects of a longstanding and rich military tradition.

The Association of the United States Army and Pacific Lutheran University would like to honor and thank those troops celebrating Thanksgiving in the South Sound. The university based in Tacoma's Parkland neighborhood will host 120 Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers for Thanksgiving dinner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 26. AUSA will pay for the meals.

Here's what PLU has to say in regards to the special dinner. ...

The JBLM soldiers, from all over the world, still are awaiting processing and assignments from the base's Headquarters and Headquarters Company-leaving them, in a sense, "homeless" for the holiday.

"Invariably around this time of year, about 100 soldiers, most or all of them brand new and right out of basic training, don't make it through in-processing and are therefore stuck in the barracks with people they don't know during the four-day weekend," said Michael Farnum, PLU's Director of Military Outreach. "They're away from home for the first time and lonely. The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and PLU have decided to show the soldiers that we appreciate their sacrifices by inviting them to be among friends at a Thanksgiving meal."

AUSA is paying for the meal, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Anderson University Center, and PLU dining staff will prepare more than 100 servings of turkey, ham, trimmings and pies. PLU student veterans will serve as table captains, with volunteers waiting on the soldiers.

Even before the first course, the soldiers will feel warmly welcomed to and by PLU: At 5:30 p.m., when the troops arrive, they will march through a line of welcoming Lutes on their way to "Operation Thanksgiving Dinner."

Distinguished guests will address the soldiers before dinner, including PLU President Thomas W. Krise, LTC USAF Retired; Joint Base Commander Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr.; president of the Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter of the AUSA, Greg Hollman; and Farnum, a retired U.S. Army SFC.

"During the time I spent in the Army, I easily missed 100 special occasions, from Thanksgivings to Christmases, including the birth of my first son," Farnum said. "We just want these soldiers to know that PLU recognizes the sacrifice they are making to keep the rest of the nation safe and happy. We want them to know we are proud of them for their service and that we are thankful for them. And when they're sitting in the barracks over this long weekend, we hope they think back on this evening and know that someone cares about them."

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