The Flight of the Turkey Day Travelers

  • Published
  • By Benjamin Newell
Thanksgiving was the first time off base for six U.S. Air Force Honor Guardsmen going through technical training at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. They participated in the "Home for the Holidays" program, sponsored by the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling chaplain's office, and were taken to a log cabin in Southern Maryland for a traditional holiday feast.

"We left the gate, and I think we all started cheering," said Airman 1st Class Roderick Johnson. "I was like 'Go, go, go faster!'"

The holiday travelers headed out early Thursday, Nov. 25, to Chaplain Maj. Hyral Walker's log cabin on the banks of the Piscataway Creek where a 16 lb. turkey, provided by the chaplain, was already in the oven.

"The recipe was actually pretty complicated," said Major Walker. "It involved a cheesecloth for distribution of juices and the turkey was setting in a pool of apple cider. I think we also injected it a few times with seasoning."

In addition to the bird, chapel members donated a fresh baked apple pie. Major Walker prepared his family's own chicken dressing recipe, a chore clocking in at 6 hours, and chatted with Airmen until dinner was served.

The Airmen have been in technical training school for approximately two months. They earn off-base privileges in phase three of training. Though they are still in phase two, Thanksgiving is a special circumstance. "Thanksgiving is the big one, for us," said Major Walker. "That's when we get the most volunteer families, and the most interested Airmen." In addition to the six Airmen at the Chaplain's cabin, another family took two Airmen.

Dinner was on the table at 2 p.m., and the Airmen went right to work, leaving behind no scraps. "It was a very special day," said Ceremonial Guardsman, Airman AshaLetia Henderson. "For those who don't have the option to go home, I highly recommend looking into this program on your base."

Airman Henderson found a mentor on the trip as well. "I've always wanted to be a pilot, so it was a great opportunity to pick the brain of Chaplain Walker," said Airman Henderson. "He owns his own plane and is a great resource to help me get to where I want to go."

Five families volunteered to bring home Airmen for Thanksgiving. Chaplain Walker plans on continuing the program through the Holiday season.