Image: Soldiers enjoy Thanksgiving.
David Furst  /  AFP - Getty Images
Dressed up as an American Pilgrim, a U.S. soldier enjoys a Thanksgiving meal at his forward operating base in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursay.
updated 11/24/2005 10:47:48 PM ET 2005-11-25T03:47:48

Huddling together in the cold, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home for Thanksgiving while on patrol near the Syrian border.

The Marines are scouting the remote, desert area along the border looking for smugglers and foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria.

The area, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was the scene of brisk fighting this month as Marines drove insurgents out of three towns near Qaim, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

“Serving my country is important but losing friends makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted,” said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Mich., who mans a 25mm canon atop an armored personnel carrier.

Others thought about what they might be doing if they were back home.

“I could be sitting on the couch at home watching football with my dad. Instead I’m driving in Iraq,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Maxwell, 21, of Petaluma, Calif. He is spending his first Thanksgiving away from home driving an armored personnel carrier on patrol.

Turkey dinner
Most of the more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq got a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings at their bases.

In Baghdad, American troops were visited by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

“Iraq is such an important place in the world. What happens in Iraq will determine and shape the future of the Middle East,” Khalilzad said. “Being away on a day like this is a huge sacrifice, but a sacrifice for a good cause.”

Soldiers in Baghdad also ran in a 5-kilometer “Turkey Trot” race, then enjoyed a big spread that included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, shrimp cocktail and about five kinds of pie for dessert.

North of Baghdad, country music star Aaron Tippin was scheduled to give a concert to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Forward Operating Base Speicher.

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