Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas --
Thanksgiving Day is not all about the feasting and football.
The holiday is an American tradition where friends and families gather to give thanks for what they have.
This Thanksgiving, 1st Lt. Elizabeth Jackson, 47th Student Squadron international military student liaison officer, did just that when she hosted a Thanksgiving meal for the international student pilots training here at Laughlin.
“We had a lot of what a ‘traditional meal’ would have,” said Jackson, “turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberries, squash and then three different pies: pumpkin, apple and pecan.”
As a pilot training base, Laughlin graduates more than 300 pilots a year, including up to 30 foreign nationals from allied countries- thirty International students from allied countries who are new to the American culture.
Three attendees, Republic of Singapore Air Force 1st Lt. Kenneth Ong, 1st Lt. Yin Loh and Lebanese Air Force 2nd Lt. Charbel Bou Malham, 47th STUS student pilots, had never celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving.
This celebration was different for the international students, but they learned a little about their American peers.
“The event that Lt. Jackson organized was truly an eye opener for us,” Ong said. “It exposed us to the cultures and traditions of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. It [was] a unique experience considering Singapore does not have a day like this where everyone gathers together to celebrate such an occasion.”
Malham expressed that he knew about the holiday but only through movies.
Jackson explained how most students are in different stages of pilot training, and don’t always have the opportunity to sit and get to know other student pilots in a casual setting.
“I think the way Thanksgiving is celebrated here is a heart-warming affair. As we go about with our busy routine every day, Thanksgiving serves as a reminder for all of us to pause and give thanks to many of the things we may take for granted daily,” said Loh. “Thanksgiving allows families to get together and catch up after possibly having not seen one another for an extended period of time.”