Military families give thanks for loved ones overseas - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Military families give thanks for loved ones overseas

Shelly Hanevold Shelly Hanevold
Robertta Cole Robertta Cole

By Leland Kim - bio | email

WHEELER ARMY AIR FIELD (KHNL) -  How do you feed hundreds of hungry people on Thanksgiving?  Well, one of the busiest kitchens on the island is on a military base.  Kitchen wizards at Wheeler Army Air Field cooked up a meal fit for King Kamehameha the Great.

It was the biggest thanksgiving production I had ever seen.  They started preparing several weeks ago, and all their hard work paid off.

These culinary wizards work double time to feed an Army, literally.  They're serving 300 Army soldiers and their families on Thanksgiving Day.

"We started about three weeks ago," said Shelly Hanevold, an Army Sergeant First Class and head chef at Wheeler Army Air Field.   "And the last week, we've been working like straight around the clock, around 18 to 20 hour days. And the last three days, we were actually here 24/7."

All that hard work shows.  They cooked up every possible food you could imagine.

"We got steamship round (a large beef roast consisting of the whole round with rump and heel). We got ham. We got turkey: a whole turkey and netted turkey," said Hanevold, who is from Evansville, Wisconsin.  "We got sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, two different types of gravy, hot rolls, seven different pies."

They do it to give back to soldiers and their families.  Many of them aren't together this Thanksgiving.

Robertta Cole's husband is half way around the world in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division.

"It's a special day meant to be spent with family," said Robertta Cole.  "We're so far from home and my husband and their daddy is deployed."

Maj. Kaci Cole left three weeks ago for his mission.

"It was harder to watch the kids," said Robertta Cole, who is taking care of their children Sean, 7, and Sarah, 2. "It's always hard for me but this is the first time the kids really understood him being gone and that was the hard part seeing them upset."

Seven-year-old Sean has an important mission of his own: to take photos of life at home to send to his daddy.

While it's hard to spend Thanksgiving without her husband, Robertta Cole counts her blessings.

"I'm thankful for my friends, our family," she said. "I'm thankful for all the support the Army gives us. I'm thankful for our health and that we can spend our last Thanksgiving on this beautiful island."

And she's most thankful for her husband Kaci.

"I love you, honey," said Robertta Cole, fighting back tears. "I'm so proud of you and I can't wait until you come home. Happy Thanksgiving."

A sentiment echoed by thousands of U.S. military families all over the world.

Maj. Cole is one of 8,000 Schofield soldiers deployed in the Middle East. About half of them are scheduled to come home in the next six months.  He'll be back next November.

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