Thanksgiving 1966: I invited Staff Sergeant Dingus and his wife to the mess hall of Travis Air Force Base with my family for a feast we will never forget. After Dingus worked years for me, I find Albert Dingus was his uncle from Burdine, Kentucky.
Air Force members and their families may have missed the emotional component of the holiday by being away from home and family, but they were more than taken care of on that day.
The food service cooked a massive feast that included 5,000 pounds of turkey, 1,000 pounds of ham, 3,000 pounds of potatoes, 12,000 rolls and 2,000 pies.
The mess sergeant was a good friend of mine, and after the meal he had his men bring candy, fruit and nuts to my kids to take home with them. My kids loved it.
During my 11 years at Travis, my family and I often ate at the mess hall on holidays.
Our printing department was open 24/7, and my men and I ate our lunch at the mess hall, which was also open 24/7.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)