Military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

Eric Milzarski
Updated onNov 22, 2023 1:48 PM PST
2 minute read
Combat Stories photo


While you’re deployed, weekends aren’t really a thing and neither are most holidays. But Thanksgiving always carries some special traditions.

While you're deployed, weekends aren't really a thing and neither are most holidays. Thanksgiving, however, is one of the few moments throughout the year when the military slows down for the holidays. It never comes to a stop. It is the military, after all, and it's been moving non-stop since 1775. Many of the staff here at We Are The Mighty served. A good chunk of us also deployed. Regardless of the branch of service or duty, we can all relate on the little things that shaped the holidays away from home.

Here are the military traditions for deployed troops celebrating Thanksgiving

Good food

Oh man, do the cooks go all out. All jokes about the quality of their food get tossed out when you smell that turkey for the first time. In 2015, the Defense Logistics Agency said they shipped out 34,760 pounds of turkey, 32,550 pounds of beef, 21,450 pounds of ham just for one holiday.

(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eric Provost, Task Force Patriot PAO)

The higher-ups serve their subordinates

No matter what unit you're a part of, or how well the command says they take care of its troops, or how well they actually take care of their troops, the command team should always put their own names on KP duty and do the serving for once.

It's a sign of respect and has far more of a legacy than a president pardoning a turkey.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff VanWey, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAO)

Fun and games

Usually in the form of mandatory fun time, troops spend the rest of the day trying to enjoy themselves. What that means is up to command.

Sometimes, it's the platoon getting together for games or a movie in the MWR. Sometimes, its a football game. Almost always, its a long-ass run.

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys

"Turkey Shoot" Range Day

One thing troops get really excited for is a Thanksgiving "Turkey Shoot" range day.

No worries about re-qualifying. No worries about ammo consumption. Just a good ol' day at the range, playing with all the toys in the unit's arsenal and lighting some targets up.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lucas Hopkins)

No matter where you are this Thanksgiving, we wish you and yours a very happy, safe holiday.


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