Gobble Gobble

Turkey Time

Experiencing the service we received in the United States Army during holiday time was a logistical wonderment to behold. It was Thursday, November 26th, 1953. We were part of the 180th Regiment of the Forty-Fifth infantry division and deployed at a place in the Yongyu Valley near the 38th Parallel in North Korea. The temperature was about twenty-five to thirty-five below zero, give or take. The fighting had ceased on the 27th of July in 1953, Monday, at precisely 9:00 PM.

It was about a week or so before Thanksgiving Day; from out of nowhere, in comes a team of engineers with three trucks loaded with building supplies to the point of explosion. Within one day, those guys erected a full and complete mess hall, capable of serving everyone in our company.

The prefabricated structure is known as a Quonset Hut, a building
made of corrugated metal and having a semicircular cross-section.

      On the Monday preceding Thanksgiving, a large quantity of food along with a detail of cooks and bakers began arriving in the wee hours of the morning. The extra cook’s helpers had been flown in from Japan. Turkey, ham, shrimp, two or three salads, and all kinds of potatoes, along with lemon meringue, apple, and pecan pies. I honestly can’t recall what they served for hors d’oeuvres, but, I can tell you that none of us were disappointed. And I can’t recall the boxes of chocolate we received, but I do remember all of us had far more than we were able to consume. The only item left out was any form of hard liquor. (We were still considered a high-level combat zone.)

    That next day, we came to find out this was a common practice afforded to all of us serving our country anywhere and everywhere in the world. To this day, I think about it when the traditional holidays are upon us. If it’s at all possible, our American military is made for us to feel as much at home as a combat zone would permit.
Replacing the freezing cold with the warmth of family and friends at Thanksgiving time serves as a reminder to me of how lucky a man I am today, some sixty-nine years hence. Please join me and mine on the celebration of this wonderful day for giving thanks. And if I may, here’s another heartfelt remembrance that manages to touch my soul, thinking back to what was a very personal day in the life and times of yours truly: Thursday, November 26, 1953.

My short remembrance:

More gently than imagined
Dinner had slowed to a savoring state
Many smiles adorned, pleased faces

Our company chaplain led a prayer
Giving thanks for this joyous meal
A final few words
The chaplain stepped away

Hey Rod, where’s that record player of yours
One of the guys called out
We knew he had it close by
Not a shock to me, it was under his seat

Rod set the “phono” in place
I stood alongside, smiling
Awaiting my favorite song to begin
Hand cranking completed, the needle in place

Never foreign to Rod and me
When he played Roy Hamilton
All around, listened

1953 Thanksgiving was special
At the moment, Rod and da harv were standing
The music began, and I remember
My eyes were closed during this festival

The first bar of music, a gentle call to arms sounding
Without any musical signal
All buddies around me began to stand
Rod and I were deeply enthralled

We began to sway to the sound
Our comrades joined in that Thanksgiving Day
It was November 26, 1953

We all listened as Roy Hamilton musically reminded us:
“We would never walk alone”

One hundred men, not walking alone!
Swaying in place as one

When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.

Oscar Hammerstein II / Richard Rodgers

It was November 26, 1953
It was a very special day.



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