By Spc. Justin Naylor
1st Cavalry Division public affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and their Iraqi Security Force partners broke bread together and dined on turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving trimmings Nov. 24 at Joint Security Station McHenry in Kirkuk, Iraq.
"The concept was a fellowship dinner celebrating relationships between 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment and our partnered commanders in the Iraqi army and Iraqi police," said Maj. Warren Sponsler, the battalion's executive officer.
The event was attended by brigade and battalion commanders from three different Iraqi army brigades, as well as commanders of 22 different Iraqi police stations and other key Iraqi police leaders in the area.
"The intent was to show our gratitude for the common bonds we've built over the past 11 months by providing a traditional Thanksgiving-type dinner," Sponsler said.
Soldiers from the battalion prepared all the food, served it and even brewed traditional Iraqi chai tea that was served before and after the meal.
"It was a very happy occasion," said Lt. Col. Abdulla Ali, the director of the Joint Coordination Center in Dibbis, Iraq. "This was the first time I have got to have Thanksgiving at McHenry."
"It is very important for us to share things with the U.S.," he said. "Anything we do, we try to share with them. We have a good relationship."
Abdulla compared this event to the Kurdish holiday of Nowruz on March 21, which celebrates Kurdish independence. He said the two events are very similar in that people come together to eat, talk and spend time with one another.
Abdulla shared his most recent Nowruz holiday with his U.S. partners and was glad he had the opportunity to share in a traditional American holiday with them.
"I have fed the U.S. soldiers many times, and it is good to have them feed me for once," he joked.
For 2nd Lt. Muhammed Akmed, an officer with the 2nd Battalion, 47th Battalion, 12th Iraqi Army Division, the holiday was a good way to wrap up the last 11 months of partnership he has shared with these soldiers as they prepare to return to Fort Hood.
Following the dinner, the Iraqis were presented certificates of appreciation from Lt. Col. David Lesperance, the commander of the 1st Battalion for their assistance and partnership with the battalion throughout the year.