Hundreds of Air Force trainees spend first Thanksgiving away from family

The trainees were treated to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE – Inside a JBSA-Lackland Air Force Base mess hall, hundreds of Air Force trainees were treated to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Their only family are the fellow men and women in uniform.

“I know how it feels to be away from home on holidays,” said Lt. Col. Rodolfo Orosco, commander of the 321 training squadron. “I know how it feels to not be with your loved ones when you’re deployed.”

It’s why he and his family spent Thanksgiving with the trainees, serving them their meals and desserts.

The small gesture means so much to trainees like 22-year-old Christopher Rodriguez.

“I was not expecting that when I walked in these front doors,” he said. “It shows the love and affection and the care that he shows for his squadron.”

Rodriguez has only been in the Air Force for 10 days. This Thanksgiving is his first holiday away from family in Tampa.

So thankful for those who serve our country. 22-year-old Christian Rodriguez is one of them. He's an Air Force trainee who started basic training just 10 days ago. He's from Tampa, and this Thanksgiving is the first he's spending without family. #KSATnews

Posted by KSAT Daniela Ibarra on Thursday, November 23, 2023

“Yeah, it’s hard being away from them,” he said, holding back emotion.

But that separation is a small price to pay.

“I can protect and serve my country, and if it means sacrificing a holiday for that, I’m more than down to do it,” said Rodriguez.

About the Authors:

Daniela Ibarra joined the KSAT News team in July 2023. This isn’t her first time in the KSAT newsroom– the San Antonio native spent the summer of 2017 as an intern. Daniela is a proud Mean Green alum, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Texas.