GATESVILLE — A crowd of about 500 soldiers and civilians shared catfish and fellowship at the sixth annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry on Thursday.

“Soldiers, please, please, please get out and speak to the community,” Maj. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr., First Army Division West commander, said at the event sponsored by Gatesville and Coryell counties, the local chamber of commerce and several businesses.

Soldiers of the 419th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and the 730th Transportation Company, both units from California set to deploy from Fort Hood to Afghanistan soon, were first in the chow line.

Gatesville Fire Chief Billy Vaden and a dozen members of the Gatesville Volunteer Fire Department fried 600 pounds of catfish for the dinner.

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