Troops Spend Thanksgiving Away from Home
(November 25, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, Nov. 24, 2010 – On his fifth deployment, Army Capt. Todd Tomkins
will be far from home and his family's Thanksgiving feast tomorrow.|
He'll miss out on the men's morning outing to hunt, and will have to forgo the
savory turkey dinner that's timed perfectly to coincide with football halftime.
Instead, Tomkins, company commander for
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st
Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, will spend
his morning at a forward operating base in
Afghanistan, helping to refurbish a school in a
But to Tomkins, each missed holiday is a
sacrifice he's happy to make.
“It stinks being away from your family on
holidays,” Tomkins admitted. “But honestly, I
just think of all the wonderful things that I am
thankful for and how lucky and blessed I am.
“People would not be able to enjoy holidays
without people making sacrifices,” he added.
November 2010 -- Army Capt. Todd
Tomkins poses for a picture with his wife, Annette, and two
children, Taylor and Todd. Tomkins, on his fifth deployment,
will spend Thanksgiving in Afghanistan, helping to refurbish
a school in a nearby village. Courtesy photo
“That is what helps me get through.”
Tomkins is one of the thousands of servicemembers who will be spending their
Thanksgiving in a combat zone, far from family and friends. And for most, after
a nearly a decade of war, this holiday will be far from the first they've
Army Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Scarpulla is on his fifth deployment in 12 years. He
has missed so many holidays that he considers it a gift when he can be home for
“My family has learned to adjust to time away, especially during the holiday
months,” said Scarpulla, who is serving with the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry
Regiment on Forward Operating Base Connolly, Afghanistan.
“It is a treat when we are all together ... but even the family understands that
the mission is important and remains very supportive when I am absent,” he said.
Like Tomkins, Scarpulla will forgo his typical Thanksgiving celebration spent at
home with family and friends, including his wife and two children. Tomorrow,
he'll carry out his day-to-day mission. But he hopes, before the day ends, to be
able to enjoy dinner with his soldiers and call his family. He also plans to
give thanks to his comrades, he said, who “continue to sacrifice their safety
for the better good.”
Army Spc. Seth Oldre, who's deployed to Afghanistan's Paktika province, is
making an added sacrifice. He'll not only miss the holidays, but the birth of
his second child, who is due the day after Thanksgiving.
“I just want [my wife] to know that I am here for her and our kids for the rest
of our lives, and we can make it through this holiday,” he said.
Oldre was deployed during the holidays last year too.
“That year was very tough because I missed my daughter's first holidays, and ...
it took a toll on me and my wife as well,” he said.
This year, Oldre will spend the day working and eating dinner with his comrades.
“I'll also be waiting for the call of my son being born,” he said.
Over in Iraq, Army Staff Sgt. Treva Quebedeaux feels thankful that her
Thanksgiving holiday will include a loved one. She's spending Thanksgiving with
her husband, Army Cpl. Thomas Guy, who also is deployed. He's stationed less
than 15 miles away, but the distance often “seems more like 15,000” miles,” she
The couple, she said, will celebrate their first anniversary in Iraq on Dec. 6.
Essentially, we've spent our entire first year of wedded bliss in Iraq,”
Quebedeaux said. “The plus side: not many couples are able to say that they
honeymooned in a combat zone.”
Quebedeaux and her husband plan to call both of their families on Thanksgiving.
And although grateful to be together, she said, they'll still miss being at
their large family celebrations back home.
Typically Quebedeaux's grandmother's home is packed with family and friends, the
scent of home-cooking filling the air from early in the morning.
After an early feast, “I usually spend most of Thanksgiving afternoon trying to
hide from my little cousins, nephews and various neighborhood children so that I
am not roped into playing flag football all afternoon,” she said. “But now that
it's not an option, I wish that it were.”
(Editor's Note: Oldre's wife gave birth a few days early to a healthy boy, Milo
Gary Oldre, on Nov. 22.)
by Elaine Wilson|
American Forces Press Service
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