With Thanksgiving tomorrow, we think about all those who are currently deployed and unable to be with their families for the Holiday. While nothing can replace being with loved ones, the Navy does its best to make it feel as much like a holiday as possible. However, what does a Navy Thanksgiving menu look like?

NORFOLK (Nov. 23, 2017) Command Master Chief Huben Phillips, command master chief of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), serves turkey at a Thanksgiving meal held aboard the ship. The ship hosted Sailors and their family members at the event held on the ship’s mess decks. The ship is in port in Norfolk, Virginia, conducting routine maintenance after a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Hurt/Released)

For more than 100 years, the Navy has included roast turkey on its Thanksgiving menu. In 1905, the USS Raleigh’s Thanksgiving menu listed: creamed asparagus bouillon; celery; creamed potatoes, young onions a la hollandaise, steamed cabbage, and white sauce; oyster dressing; cranberry sauce; assorted nuts; and—of course—roast turkey. No feast would be complete without dessert. In 1905, pumpkin pie, mince pie, and fruitcake topped off the holiday meal.

Head table with guests at the Thanksgiving dinner with the First Regiment, U.S. Naval Training Camp, Charleston, South Carolina, c. 1917
Photo Taken from the National Museum of the United States Navy Facebook page

In a release from the US Navy in 1969, a transcript of a film wrote:
“November 25, 1969
(Official U.S. Navy Film Released by the Department of Defense)
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military men and women around the world will receive their Thanksgiving turkey, even men in remote posts in Vietnam.
With the official menu announced by Department of Defense including the traditional bird and all the fixings, only those personnel assigned overseas and on board ships will enjoy shrimp cocktail due to the devastation of most of the U. S. gulf coast shrimp during Hurricane Camille last August.
These men, stationed at Little Creek, Virginia board LCU (Utility Landing Craft) 1625, partake of just a portion of the holiday foods which will be served to the American fighting men and women around the world.
A total of approximately 2,800,000 pounds of turkey, 192,000 pounds of shrimp, 787,500 pounds of potatoes, 383,933 pounds of cranberry sauce and 350,000 pounds of fruitcake await the U.S. military personnel on this American holiday.
According to the Department of Defense, the same basic menu will be served on Christmas Day.”

Below you will find Thanksgiving Menus from Naval Submarine Base in Pearl Harbor from 1941:

Last year the Navy estimated that 89,000 pounds of turkey would be served to the Navy forces. The below graphic was posted on the navy.mil site to show the amount of food it takes to make a Thanksgiving feast happen for our sailors:

According to the National Museum of the United States Navy, this year is shaping up to be another large feast:

For service members deployed during Thanksgiving, the Defense Logistics Agency has shipped over 300,000 pounds of traditional Thanksgiving food worldwide, from the Middle East to Europe, Africa, Texas, and Arizona.

This year service members received:
-9,738 whole turkeys
-51,234 pounds of roasted turkey
-74,036 pounds of beef
-21,758 pounds of ham
-67,860 pounds of shrimp
-16,284 pounds of sweet potatoes
-81,360 pies
-19,284 cakes
-7,836 gallons of eggnog.

From all of us here at the Submarine Force Library and Museum we want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!