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Senior Master Sgt. Tina Heggins of the 301st Intelligence Squadron is still smiling while mixing the stuffing, even after a day spent filling 12 dozen deviled eggs and performing other chef duties for Security Hill’s annual Thanksgiving dorm feed.

Senior Master Sgt. Tina Heggins of the 301st Intelligence Squadron is still smiling while mixing the stuffing, even after a day spent filling 12 dozen deviled eggs and performing other chef duties for Security Hill’s annual Thanksgiving dorm feed. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

Senior Master Sgt. Tina Heggins of the 301st Intelligence Squadron is still smiling while mixing the stuffing, even after a day spent filling 12 dozen deviled eggs and performing other chef duties for Security Hill’s annual Thanksgiving dorm feed.

Senior Master Sgt. Tina Heggins of the 301st Intelligence Squadron is still smiling while mixing the stuffing, even after a day spent filling 12 dozen deviled eggs and performing other chef duties for Security Hill’s annual Thanksgiving dorm feed. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

Senior Master Sgt. Artie Sanders, left, helps Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Scott and Master Sgt. Sheryl Faruzzi dish out steaming mashed potatoes just prior to the Thanksgiving dorm feed in Building 539 Tuesday at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Senior Master Sgt. Artie Sanders, left, helps Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Scott and Master Sgt. Sheryl Faruzzi dish out steaming mashed potatoes just prior to the Thanksgiving dorm feed in Building 539 Tuesday at Misawa Air Base, Japan. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Cook it and they will come.

Sure enough, as scents of roasted poultry and candied yams wafted under doors Tuesday evening, hungry dorm dwellers filed into the halls of Buildings 544 and 539.

A Thanksgiving feast to rival Mom’s — well, almost — was theirs for the taking.

“I’m on year three,” said Senior Airman Paul Goldsmith, 25, of Dallas, Texas, a veteran of the annual Thanksgiving dorm feed.

“It’s something that you look forward to every year. You got all the senior NCOs coming here, cooking you all you need. This is Thanksgiving. It’s a little taste of home.”

About 300 single or unaccompanied airmen, sailors and soldiers assigned to Security Hill at Misawa were invited to fill their bellies with some traditional Thanksgiving Day fare. Security Hill’s Air Force Senior Enlisted Council and Navy chiefs’ group prepare and host the event every year for the hill’s dorm residents and single personnel who live off base.

“This is one of the best things we do because we’re giving back to our young airmen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tina Heggins, 301st Intelligence Squadron chief of training and one of the volunteer chefs in the dorm kitchen on Tuesday. “The holidays are kind of tough,” she said as she filled 12 dozen deviled eggs. “We want to let them know that we do care for them.”

The dorm feed is turning into a Security Hill tradition, dating back at least six years, said this year’s organizer, Master Sgt. Troy Abel, 373rd Intelligence Group chief of plans.

About $800 from fundraisers goes into the event, with 15 turkeys and 10 hams donated by the hill’s senior leadership and an array of homemade desserts provided by the Single Unaccompanied Dependents and Spouses group.

The menu is traditional as well, though organizers are open to suggestions. “I’m not sure if they were joking or picking on me but they said, ‘Can you get something other than the canned cranberries?’” said Abel of a dorm feed planning meeting.

So canned cranberries were out; instead, Abel made 25 quarts of cranberry relish similar to his mom’s recipe.

Just before the first guests arrived at 5 p.m. sharp Tuesday, Abel, Heggins and Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Scott hustled to add some finishing touches — a dash of salt for the green beans, some marshmallows for the candied yams and a few stiff stirs for the mashed potatoes.

Their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Airman 1st Class Cody Hill, 20, of Vanalstyen, Texas, was the first in line in Building 539. He is a computer systems operator with the 373rd Intelligence Group, and this was his first Thanksgiving away from home.

“It makes it seem like we have something to look forward to,” he said.

“It’s not quite home,” said Airman Marques Moore, 19, of Milwaukee, Wis., but it sure beat last year’s Thanksgiving spent at basic training. The proof was in his hands: “I got this heavy plate,” he said.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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