Volunteers make dinner for troops guarding the border
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There was a special Thanksgiving dinner for troops we tend not to think about---National Guardsmen on watch at the Mexico border.
At the Valencia Road National Guard Armory, volunteers served those troops who serve us everyday.
Instead of being deployed half a world away, about five hundred National Guardsmen are serving their country by watching the Mexico Border.
The duty still pulls them away from their families, so a hearty Thanksgiving dinner is a nice touch of home.
Master Sergeant Waldsmith of the Arizona Air National Guard says, "I think it's great. It gets cold down there and it gets lonely and usually you just pack your own food in and to have a nice hot meal on the holiday it's a little payback for not being with your family."
Because these troops are from Arizona Air Guard and National Guard, some of their families can join them for dinner.
A lot of the meals prepared at the Armory were not eaten there. They were packed up into special thermal containers to keep them nice and hot and they will be served to troops on duty, deep in the desert.
Preparing the dinner meant time away from their families, and a lot of work for volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10188.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Dan Rowland, Commander of VFW Post 10188:"What's that experience like when you dish out a nice looking plate and you hand it over to these guys?
Rowland says, "Well, I know within about five seconds it's not gonna look that way because they're just gonna tear into it, which is good. It's a feeling of accomplishment, that we were able to take time out of our lives to come down and share with them a little bit of what we are, who we are, and the fact that, like we had mentioned, they get out on the field, they don't necessarily get a nice warm meal every time."
For members of the Tucson Troop Support Group, helping troops and their families reaches far beyond the holidays.
Jerry Lujan says, "We have paid the rents for some people. We've painted their houses. We have paid utility bills. We started a college fund for one who was killed overseas. We do a lot of things but specifically for the families."
And in many ways the dinner is a family affair for the extended family of military serving now, combined with the veteran volunteers offering this Thanksgiving for their service.