FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Since 2 am this morning 32 food-service employees have been working non-stop to prepare a Thanksgiving feast for over 1400 hundred soldiers along with 300 family members. 

Building manager Jimmy Helmuth said he has worked the Thanksgiving day tradition for 18 years. He said each year is just as special as the next. 

“It’s an amazing feeling. This is the best day of the year. We all work really hard for this day. We love seeing the soldiers happy since they are away from their families.” said Helmuth.

For many soldiers coming to Fort Leonard Wood meant leaving their families, but after talking with the Battalion Commander of the 31st Engineer Battalion John Grabowski, he described the trainees as one big family. 

“This is my family. Being the Commander, you form a special connection with all your troops. especially the trainees.“ said Grabowski.

The soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood come from all over the country. They come together and grow through experiences you only get by being a part of the military. 

Trainees say it’s an experience they will never forget. 

“I’ve talked to people from different walks of life that I’ve never imagined. so it is really nice to see how basic training can put all of us together and really notice different aspects of life. it’s a beautiful thing. “ said one trainee. “I’m excited to call these people my family… I’d love getting the time to sit around the table and have a great time with my new brothers and sisters.”