Operation Homecooking puts trainees in homes for holiday|
by Capt. Korry Leverett
Flight Commander, Officer Training School
12/3/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- About 200 officer trainees from Basic Officer Training and the Academy of Military Science were away from family this Thanksgiving but still managed to enjoy a traditional dinner.
Each year, trainees from OTS at Maxwell and Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, are paired with a host family in support of Operation Homecooking.
The program, in its 35th year, helped more than 3,200 trainees enjoy a home-cooked meal and spend quality time with a family.
For many trainees, this was their first Thanksgiving away from home after joining the military.
"I'm used to a traditional Thanksgiving meal with my whole family," said officer candidate Senior Airman Vincent Duenas from the 254th RED HORSE Squadron, Guam Air National Guard. "This was my first Thanksgiving away from family, but I got to spend it with a great family."
Airman Duenas said that initially, many officer candidates signed up for Operation Homecooking as a way to get out of the dorms. But it turned out to be a great experience.
"I was a little hesitant at first ... meeting a new family and interacting on a special day, but I had nothing to worry about," he said.
For other trainees, like the servicemembers who have deployed in recent years, this isn't their first time away during the holidays.
"I missed my first four Thanksgivings and Christmases after I joined the military," said officer candidate Technical Sgt. Michael Hohman, of the167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard. "So, this is nothing new for me."
Service and sacrifice is the foundation of this program and it wouldn't be possible without the sacrifice of many local families.
"It's a tremendous opportunity to give back to the community and to serve," said retired Col. Stephen Hagel.
"This was our first time hosting ... we wanted to open our house for folks to relax, enjoy a home-cooked meal and allow a little reprieve from the day-to-day activity at Officer Training School."
Along with Mr. Hagel, Col. Timothy O'Brien, Officer Training School commandant, Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, and nearly 65 other families opened their homes in the Montgomery area in support of Operation Homecooking.