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A Thanksgiving Away From Home

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ernesto Hernandez Fonte, 30th Naval Construction Regiment

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - 11.30.2009

For many Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan this will be their first Thanksgiving away from home and for others, it's their second or more. Soldiers like those assigned to the 76th Engineer Company, 19th Engineer Battalion, deployed near the Afghanistan - Pakistan border at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak.

"I don't like spending Thanksgiving here because it was a really big holiday for my family growing up," said Spc. Arnie R. Greatheart from Wayne County, Ga., assigned to the company. "Thanksgiving is one of those times that everyone, regardless of whether they are family, just everybody in the neighborhood pretty much just goes to everybody and anybodies house. It's kind of like an extended family."

For Greatheart, who has only spent one Thanksgiving home since 2002, it's his battle buddies that get him through this holiday. He believes that everyone has their own way of getting through what can be a depressing time; some face it as a group, others individually.

"Friends and battle buddies get you through, someone you get along with and someone you trust going through the same things you are going through," said Greatheart. "Communication with family too, normally nine times out of ten, we have some type of communication."

Greatheart whose son turned six last August misses his family this holiday season.

"It's a deployment. Everybody gets frustrated because everyone misses home. We all become homesick," said Greatheart. "I haven't spent a Thanksgiving home since 2006. This is the third thanksgiving I've spent overseas."

He came to Afghanistan with one gray hair and will be leaving with more than four. Greatheart feels the stress of deployment but does let it get to him and looks forward to his future redeployment home.

"The military is not a bad thing," said Greatheart. "We all go through times like this. Eventually we all get through it."

More than 55,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines like Greatheart are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom this holiday season. As we give thanks on Nov. 26, let's not forget to give thanks to the service members who are away from their families.

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