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US Carrier Celebrates Thanksgiving

November 26, 1998

ABOARD THE USS ENTERPRISE (AP) _ U.S. sailors and airmen in the Persian Gulf interrupted their war exercises Thursday just long enough to gobble down turkey and pumpkin pie.

``It doesn’t make a difference whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas when you are in a war zone,″ said Petty Officer Joe Sprague of Hornell, N.Y.

By late morning the first of the day’s training missions had started. Some 90 sorties were flown from this aircraft carrier on Thursday.

While pilots were dropping dummy bombs, 200 cooks and assistants prepared a feast of 10,000 turkey rolls, 2,500 whole turkeys, 2,000 pounds of honey-baked ham, 500 pounds of mashed potatoes and several thousand pounds of pumpkin pie and other goodies.

``This is the kind of stuff that my mom would be proud to eat,″ chief cook Kenneth Nall said as he put finishing touches on the meal.

``It’s definitely a big operation,″ said Nall, who is from Foley, Ala.

Some 5,000 U.S. military personnel are aboard the USS Enterprise, ready to strike at the first sign of Iraq’s failure to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. The aircraft carrier, the Navy’s fastest, sailed from Norfolk, Va., three weeks ago.

Lt. Lori Dague, 26, of Houston, said she missed her husband Chris and son Cameron.

``I am so lonely today. It’s my first Thanksgiving away from them,″ said Dague, a communications security officer and one of some 300 women among the crew.

In the Kuwaiti desert, some 2,500 U.S. soldiers celebrated Thanksgiving with elaborate meals in the mess hall of the Camp Doha, north of Kuwait City.

Several hundred of the soldiers are based in the camp to maintain the armor and artillery the United States keeps there in the event of an Iraqi attack. The rest are in Kuwait to take part in routine war games.

The Thanksgiving meal featured alcohol-free egg nog, but there was no beer or wine. Alcohol is banned in Kuwait, a Muslim country.

Maj. Anita McCarthy-McGee, of Baton Rouge, La., was looking on the bright side of her sixth holiday far from home and her 6-year-old son.

``I think of it as six turkeys I didn’t have to cook,″ she joked.

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