US troops celebrate last Thanksgiving in Iraq

The soldiers celebrated the occasion with a special meal including turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

Cos Echo: American troops marked
their last Thanksgiving in Iraq with turkey, stuffing and a rocket fire alarm.

Fewer than 20,000 American troops remain in Iraq at
eight bases across the country. All of the forces must be out
of Iraq by the end of this year, and American soldiers have
been busily packing up their equipment and heading south.

Many of the bases no longer have civilian contractors
making meals for them, so the troops have been eating
prepackaged meals.

At COS Echo in southern Iraq yesterday, the soldiers
celebrated the occasion with a special meal including turkey,
stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling
cider were brought in especially for the occasion. The
incoming rocket alarm was nothing special for the holiday they
are heard all the time.

Lt Col Robert Michael Rodriguez from Santa Fe, N M said they worked especially hard to make the food as good as possible for what could be the last Thanksgiving in a war zone for many of the assembled troops.

"All of the commanders and the first sergeants and myself have been serving the soldiers all day. All the fixings, turkey, ham, lobster, shrimp. Trying to make it as close to home as possible," he said.

Thanksgivings in the US are more about food and footballs games, not warfare. The afternoon meal at Echo was marked by the distinctive, loud whirring sound signalling incoming fire at the base, and all the soldiers hit the floor.

It was unclear if anything hit the base located near Diwaniyah, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

US military officials have blamed Shiite militias backed by Iran for much of the violence in southern Iraq directed at departing American forces.

Attacks have let up in recent months compared to the frequent rocket barrages fired at US troops over the spring and summer. American commanders say they are prepared for further violence against their forces as US troops leave the


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