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Gen Philip Breedlove, head of U.S. European Command, dons an apron as he prepares to serve Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to troops at the Adazi Training area in Latvia, where U.S. forces are working to reassure allies.

Gen Philip Breedlove, head of U.S. European Command, dons an apron as he prepares to serve Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to troops at the Adazi Training area in Latvia, where U.S. forces are working to reassure allies. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Gen Philip Breedlove, head of U.S. European Command, dons an apron as he prepares to serve Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to troops at the Adazi Training area in Latvia, where U.S. forces are working to reassure allies.

Gen Philip Breedlove, head of U.S. European Command, dons an apron as he prepares to serve Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to troops at the Adazi Training area in Latvia, where U.S. forces are working to reassure allies. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

American and Latvian troops line up for a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, at a training base outside of Riga, Latvia. U.S. soldiers have been a steady presence in the Baltics as part of an effort to reassure allies in the region unnerved by Russian aggression in Ukraine.

American and Latvian troops line up for a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, at a training base outside of Riga, Latvia. U.S. soldiers have been a steady presence in the Baltics as part of an effort to reassure allies in the region unnerved by Russian aggression in Ukraine. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

Pfc. Obed Samah, left, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Ifekam carve Thanksgiving turkey on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, for U.S. soldiers training outside the  Latvian capital, Riga. The troops from the 3rd Infantry Division have spent the past several months working with allies in the region.

Pfc. Obed Samah, left, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Ifekam carve Thanksgiving turkey on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, for U.S. soldiers training outside the Latvian capital, Riga. The troops from the 3rd Infantry Division have spent the past several months working with allies in the region. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

U.S. European Command chief Gen. Philip Breedlove serves Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to U.S. and Latvian troops who are training outside of the Latvian capital, Riga. Breedlove is concluding a three-day trip through the region to visit with troops.

U.S. European Command chief Gen. Philip Breedlove serves Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, to U.S. and Latvian troops who are training outside of the Latvian capital, Riga. Breedlove is concluding a three-day trip through the region to visit with troops. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

A group of U.S. soldiers shares a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, at Adazi Training Area in Latvia. U.S. troops have become a constant presence in the country as part of a U.S. effort to reassure allies on Russia's periphery.

A group of U.S. soldiers shares a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015, at Adazi Training Area in Latvia. U.S. troops have become a constant presence in the country as part of a U.S. effort to reassure allies on Russia's periphery. (John Vandiver/Stars and Stripes)

DAZI TRAINING AREA, Latvia — Sgt. 1st class Hector Ramos stood in a long line for Thanksgiving dinner at this Latvian military base, feeling grateful.

“It is great to have a little bit of home when we are out here,” said the 3rd Infantry Division soldier.

On Thursday, about 200 soldiers along with several hundred Latvian troops chowed down for a feast, with turkey served by NATO’s supreme allied commander, clad in a plastic apron.

“You are making a difference here” Gen. Philip Breedlove told the troops during a visit on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Nancy Bikoff Pettit also provided an extra hand.

Breedlove who was winding up a three-day tour through the Baltics and Poland, thanked the troops for their sacrifice.

Holidays away from home are hard, but the mission is essential, Breedlove said.

For soldiers, this turkey day had all the trimmings — cranberry sauce, mashed potaotes and pumpkin pie.

Capt. Stephen Vadovsky, a U.S. soldier assigned to the embassy in Riga, said the chance to dine with so many Americans is a rarity.

“We didn’t expect to have Thanksgiving like this. So to be served by the general and the ambassador and be with all these soldiers is special,” he said.

vandiver.john@stripes.com

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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