MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Pfc. Fred Glass savored every morsel of the traditional Thanksgiving meal he and more than 100 fellow Marine Corps Communication-Electronics students from the Combat Center were treated to Nov. 28 at Roughley Manor Bed and Breakfast.
Two full plates and three desserts later, the 24-year-old South Bend, Ind., native stood with fellow MCCES students in front of the manor, talking and enjoying the 65-degree weather.
“It reminds me of home,” Glass said of the food, echoing the sentiments of many of the 103 Marines who attended the event where 40 volunteers dished up 11 turkeys, 70 pounds of mashed potatoes, 30 pounds each of stuffing and sweet potatoes, 15 pumpkin pies and eight dozen deviled eggs along with assorted sides, rolls, relish trays and desserts.
Glass’s favorite part of the meal was the green bean casserole.
“It tastes exactly like mama’s,” he said.
Marines filled tables set up in the outdoor garden setting, eating, chatting and laughing with one another and volunteers, getting up occasionally to refill a plate or grab something to drink.
Afterward, they explored the grounds and clustered in groups, continuing conversations, and calling and texting home as they waited for the buses that would take them back to the Combat Center.
Roughley Manor owners Jan and Gary Peters have hosted the annual meal for Marines with help from family members and friends for the past five years.
“We are tied to the Marine Corps,” said Gary Peters, who bought the historic 1928 home with his wife and turned it into a B&B after retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1997 after 32 years of service. “We believe that they deserve any special treatment they can get.”
Former city councilman John Cole, whose wife, Marsha, oversaw much of the cooking, gave the blessing and Twentynine Palms Mayor Joel Klink spoke to the Marines and sang the national anthem before the start of the meal.
Having the mayor on hand was a welcome surprise for Pfc. Vincent Engel, 19, of Howard Beach, N.Y.
“I’m from New York. To run into the mayor anywhere is a big thing,” Engel said. “But to have him come out” to greet the Marines, “wow.”
Pfc. Ryan Deisz of Geneva, Ill., said the event reminded him of his hometown’s hospitality.
“Everybody’s really caring,” he said. “It was important to make us feel at home.”
“It was a definite spirit-lifter,” added Pfc. Ronald Hinson, 21, of Lancaster, S.C.
The Marines’ weren’t the only spirits lifted.
Pvt. Kyle Hashbarger, 19, of Fredericksburg, Va., spent much of the day texting his mother, assuring her he was being well taken care of on his first Thanksgiving away from home.
“She’s glad,” he said, adding, “I’m definitely glad I came.”
Twentynine Palms businesswoman Mary Jane Binge, who joined the legion of volunteers for the first time this year, said she enjoyed every minute.
“It feels very good to be of service,” she said.
Jan Peters, who is no stranger to hosting large events, said she loves that her family and friends work together to make Thanksgiving away from home a little brighter for the Marines.
“It’s an honor for us to be able to do this,” she said.