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Soldiers Spend Thanksgiving In Afghanistan
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Soldiers Spend Thanksgiving In Afghanistan

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Soldiers Spend Thanksgiving In Afghanistan

Soldiers Spend Thanksgiving In Afghanistan
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Steve Inskeep checks in with four members of the New York National Guard, currently deployed to Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan. They are spending Thanksgiving overseas and talk about what they're thankful for — and what they'll be telling their families when they call home today.

Chief Warrant Officer MICHAEL MAHONEY(ph) (New York National Guard): I'd like to say happy Thanksgiving to my son Quinn(ph).

Specialist ELIZABETH BRADLEY(ph) (New York National Guard): I'd like to say happy Thanksgiving to my mom and...

Sergeant MICHAEL KANTLY(ph) (New York National Guard): I'd say a happy Thanksgiving to my wife, Lilly(ph).

Captain LYN COURIER(ph) (New York National Guard): Let me say happy Thanksgiving to my mom...

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Today, U.S. troops based all over the world will be hoping for a phone line and a chance to call home and wish their loved ones a happy Thanksgiving. As that day approached, we reached out to four of them, all members of the New York National Guard currently deployed to Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan.

Chief Warrant Officer MAHONEY: This is Michael Mahoney. I'm a Chief Warrant Officer in the New York state Army National Guard. I'm from Saratoga Springs, New York. And basically on Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to be probably working.

INSKEEP: Michael Mahoney's job, at least in part, is helping soldiers to make those calls home. He sets up communications systems around Afghanistan, and here is how he was planning to spend his Thanksgiving Day.

Chief Warrant Officer MAHONEY: We're doing a 5k work race in the morning. And I think we're going to have a lot of people dress up as turkeys and pilgrims and things like that. So it should be kind of fun.

INSKEEP: And then there's the question of what's for dinner.

Chief Warrant Officer MAHONEY: It's kind of a mystery right now, but I'm hoping for turkey. And I'm pretty sure that's what they're going to do. We eat pretty well here, and I think they're planning on giving us a pretty good dinner.

INSKEEP: No matter what's on the menu at Camp Phoenix today, Specialist Elizabeth Bradley is set. Her family stays connected to her with a steady flow of care packages.

Specialist BRADLEY: My Dad gave me like ten boxes of popcorn. And my mom's, like, every box of candy will have like a note that says, I know you like this because I remember when you were eight you liked it.

INSKEEP: Think of this as a note to or from the troops in Afghanistan. We've been reaching out to them. And we found some of their families were doing the same.

Captain COURIER: I've got my mother in my other ear right now.

INSKEEP: That's Captain Lyn Courier, and she was talking to her mom, which is something she does two or three times a week. She put her mother on hold sorry, Mom - in order to tell us what she's thankful for.

Captain COURIER: You know what I find so important is that if you really have a good family circle, which I do - I mean, I have the best family that anybody could have. You know, I have my mom at home watching my young son. And as long as he's around family, I am OK.

Sergeant KANTLY: It's not my first go around on this type of thing, and it never gets easier.

INSKEEP: That's Sergeant Michael Kantly. He's already served at ground zero and in Iraq. Now in Afghanistan, he's away for another holiday.

Sergeant KANTLY: You just have to concentrate on doing your duty and maintaining your focus here. You know, your thoughts always drift back to home, but that's not your reality at the moment. Your reality is here.

INSKEEP: Sergeant Michael Kantly, Captain Lyn Courier, Specialist Elizabeth Bradley and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Mahoney. They are four of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen deployed overseas this Thanksgiving. And just in case the four that we spoke with do not get through to their families today. Here's what they'd like to say.

Sergeant KANTLY: I'd say a happy Thanksgiving to my wife, Lilly, my coworkers at the VA hospital in North Port, and to the New York Yankees.

Captain COURIER: Happy Thanksgiving to my mom, Elizabeth Melborn(ph), who is in Ballston Spa watching my young son. Happy Thanksgiving to my son Brandon(ph) and all my family back in Bury, Vermont, and Northfield, Vermont. Happy Thanksgiving.

Specialist BRADLEY: Happy Thanksgiving to my mom and my dad and my step-mother and my sister and my three brothers and my nieces and my nephew and all the family that will be celebrating Thanksgiving without me.

Chief Warrant Officer MAHONEY: I'd like to say Happy Thanksgiving to my son, Quinn, my daughter, Catherine(ph), my mother and father, and my girlfriend Carol(ph).

Sergeant KANTLY: Oh, oh, you know what. I almost forgot...

INSKEEP: That's Sergeant Kantly who ran back to the phone with one more Thanksgiving wish just as we were about to hang up.

Sergeant KANTLY: I'd also like to say happy Thanksgiving to all my buddies at the 69th Infantry in Lexington Avenue in New York City. You know, have some Jamison for me.

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