Fort McCoy Garrison command team members donned chef hats and joined staff in Dining Facility 1362 to serve the annual Thanksgiving Meal on Nov. 8 to more than 100 Fort McCoy community members.
One by one the plates of food were handed out to all who came to enjoy the meal in an environment decorated to the hilt for Thanksgiving spirit, said Fort McCoy Food Program Manager Andy Pisney with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center Food Program Management Office.
“The management and staff of our food service provider, DCT Incorporated, did a lot of preparation prior to the meal,” Pisney said. “The dining facility was beautifully decorated. They get children in day care and schools to color pictures and make paper turkeys for the event, and then they put them on the walls to decorate the facility.
“They also put out a great looking table setting and make it special by putting sparkling grape juice right on the tables,” Pisney said.
The meal was open to the civilian workforce members and retirees as well as military members, Pisney said.
“In addition to the garrison command team, we also had the (garrison) headquarters and headquarters company commander and first sergeant, and the USO also had people help serve,” Pisney said.
Holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving meals, have been a tradition at Fort McCoy, formerly Camp McCoy. During World War II, tens of thousands of Soldiers trained at the installation to deploy overseas to fight in the war, and every November the “mess halls” served up a Thanksgiving feast.
An excerpt from the Nov. 27, 1943, edition of The Real McCoy newspaper even mentions it in the unit column, “251st Engineers Ramblings.”
“Thanksgiving meals were without equal within the mess halls,” the unidentified column writer wrote in addition to discussing unit Soldiers building floating bridges, “637 men firing 99 ½ percent qualified,” and the unit motor pool personnel moving locations.
Additionally, in a Nov. 22, 1951, edition of The Real McCoy newspaper, a Thanksgiving meal was mentioned in the “Camp News” section column of the 199th Engineer Battalion.
“Company ‘C’ of the 199th Engineer (C) Battalion is feeling quite proud these days. During a recent mess hall inspection, conducted by a 5th Army inspection team, numerous compliments were received by Company C. Consequently, the men of Company C are glad they put in a lot of work in making their mess hall such an attractive place in which to eat. Personnel will enjoy old ‘Tom’ this Thanksgiving in their new dining room, more than they have in the past.”
And the Nov. 22, 1996, edition of The Triad newspaper reviewed a similar event to the 2023 meal.
“Members of the food-service team at the Installation Dining Facility serve a bountiful Thanksgiving feast to members of the Fort McCoy community at the annual Installation Thanksgiving Dinner,” states the caption in a photo in the newspaper. “Nearly 300 people enjoyed the Nov. 18 event, held at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center.”
The Nov. 8 meal was the second straight year that it was held before Veterans Day.
“Last year … it worked really well too, so I think we will be keeping close to that holiday in the future,” Pisney said.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base. Fort McCoy is also part of Army’s Installation Management Command where “We Are The Army’s Home.”
By Scott Sturkol