Thanksgiving dinner in the field

The Army has traditionally gone to somewhat great lengths to try to ensure every soldier has a traditional Thanksgiving dinner whether at home station, or deployed to war. And for the most part, they succeed. I’m sure every career helicopter pilot has a tale of flying a mermite can of turkey and dressing to some remote hilltop.

At any given time, there are bound to be some detachments of soldiers in isolated areas where regularly supplying them with hot meals is a logistical challenge. At the same time, the size of the detachment is too small to justify sending a cook and kitchen forward to feed them.

And so, the bright minds at the Army’s Natick Laboratory came up with the Unitized Group Ration- Express. We’ll talk more about the family of UGRs later. But for now, we’ll focus on the Express.

Most of you are already familiar with the self heating pouch supplied with an MRE to warm that ration. The UGR-E takes that idea to another level. The UGR comes in a box, with all the food, compartmented trays, utensils and condiments needed for the meal. Even better, it’s self heating. Pull  a tab and the same technology that heats an MRE will heat the UGR-E. Each ration is a complete meal for 18 troops.  Here’s a typical breakfast menu:


And here’s a typical dinner menu:


There’s also a special issue holiday meal specifically for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Designed to be grunt proof, and not needing any food service specialist support, the UGR-E means troops won’t have to subsist solely on MREs for extended periods of time even when situated far from their parent unit.

There’s a good chance that Thanksgiving dinner for some remote Combat Outpost in Afghanistan will come from a box. I’ll remember that when I’m struggling with roasting my turkey.

9 thoughts on “Thanksgiving dinner in the field”

  1. Safe travels to all here as we celebrate the American trinity of family, food, and football. May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  2. “Egg Mix”

    Some things never change. I bet the color is still gray, green and yellow, too.

    I accidentally played the ad. It was about McDonald’s burger patties—how are they frozen?, is it real beef?….Coincidence?

  3. Every year, I think of John Carter, on a mountainside on the border between France and Italy for Thanksgiving 1944, trying to boil a turkey. Sadly, John is no longer with us, but his story will always be.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coasties (miss you, Dad), and thank you for your service!

  4. My baby sister (looks 32 but is 54) with whom I share identical beliefs both social, and faith based, cried yesterday as I told her how actually Uncle Sam went through great effort and expense to get a thanksgiving meal to the Armed Forces on that day. Don’t think her too tender…she wanted to nuke Iraq during Desert Storm….I believe she used the term “a pane of glass”, Sis you’re so special to me. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, mine was wonderful AND TCU fairly stuck it to Texas in football.

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