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Week 1 trainees treated to civilian-style dining

By Tony Perez | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office | Nov. 22, 2007

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS — Tucked in the Texas Hill Country, an 18-month-old fine dining restaurant fed a special Thanksgiving dinner for some of the newest members of the Air Force family. 

With solid oak tables and chairs carefully positioned in one of Boerne's historic building, you could feel the sense of home within the walls of Cypress Grille well before the 100 basic military trainees began filing the warm and friendly establishment. 

However, once the young men and women showed up, the cozy perception became a reality as trainees in their first week of BMT gathered to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast away from their families. 

"Normally we are closed on Thanksgiving," said restaurant co-owner and 29-year Army veteran, Mike Thompson. "We just thought that with everything going on in the world, this was something we could do to give back to our military personnel." 

The event took about a month to plan and included the help of several volunteers. 

"We are happy to be able to help out one of the services in town," Mike said. "We are optimistic that we will be able to do this again next year." 

The Cypress Grille is owned by the Thompson brothers. Mike's brother, Paul, is one of the chefs. A third brother is currently deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Mike will see his son and daughter-in-law deploy to Afghanistan next month. The Thompson's father also served in the Army. 

Nothing but smiles could be seen on the faces of the trainees as they lined up to receive plates stacked full of roast beef, ham, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, green bean casserole and, of course, turkey. 

"This is a great event," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Jenkins, 737th Training Squadron commander. "The Cypress Grille is an outstanding restaurant. These people could be at home with their families, but this shows our young Airmen that they are thankful for all of the things they do, like laying their lives on the line." 

This is the first time Lackland AFB has allowed trainees in their first week of training to attend an event off base. 

"These young men and women have behaved marvelously, the way we thought they would," Colonel Jenkins said. "We couldn't be happier with them." 

While many families took in trainees throughout the city in support of Operation Homecooking, no restaurant has ever put on an event of this magnitude. 

"It's so great to be around all of my new brothers and sisters, since we can't be close to our families," said trainee Sierra Logan, from Milwaukee, Wisc. "My favorite part is the dressing. I didn't know they were going to have any. I'm so happy right now."