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First Shipment of Turkeys, Other Holiday Foods Arrives at Exchanges in Middle East

Exchange associates help load turkeys into the freezer at Qatar’s Al Udeid Blatchford-Preston Complex Exchange. From left: Dennis Dawson, store manager; Jofre Palinlin, inventory control associate; Prakash Rijal, inventory control associate; Kutub Uddin, sales associate; and Prem Khadka, customer service leader.


DOHA, Qatar – The Exchange, in partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency, is bringing service members deployed overseas a taste of home as the first shipment of frozen turkeys arrived in Qatar this month, just in time for Thanksgiving.

“The turkeys are flying off the shelves,” said Sheila Enderle, Exchange general manager at Qatar/United Arab Emirates/Saudi Arabia. “As word spreads, more and more people are making their way to the Exchange to purchase their holiday meal.”

Before the Exchange shipped more than 300 turkeys to Exchanges at Al Udeid Air Base and Camp As Sayliyah, some service members were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to observe one of their holiday traditions.

“Being stationed here in Qatar I was worried,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Blue Etheridge, superintendent of the Joint Operations Center at Special Operations Command Central. “You see, we have a holiday tradition where we deep-fry our turkey every year for Thanksgiving and when we found out where we would be stationed, we weren’t sure we would be able to get a turkey. But we purchased a fryer last year just in case and then word got out that the Exchange was going to have turkeys and we made our purchase.

“I cannot tell you how much it means for us to be able to have our traditional holiday meal.”

“I cannot tell you how much it means for us to be able to have our traditional holiday meal.”

-Air Force Master Sgt. Blue Etheridge


Months of coordination

Getting the turkey to the table is a team effort requiring months of coordination along the Exchange supply chain.

Merchandising and contingency establishes sales requirements, then logistics coordinates frozen container shipments with vendors, specifying load dates that will meet delivery before the holidays without increasing storage requirements in theater.

Logistics schedules arrival dates with stores, the shipments arrive, and service members can purchase their turkeys and other items for their holiday meal.

Turkeys shipped to Greenland, Kosovo, Iraq

The Exchange also ships turkeys for service members’ holiday meals to Thule Air Base, Greenland; Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo; four locations in Kuwait; and two locations in Iraq, which can sometimes take longer because of custom clearance requirements.

Other items shipped to the Exchange overseas for the holidays include hard candies from the U.S., and holiday chocolates, cookies and Christmas decorations from Germany.

“The Exchange is committed to bringing a taste of home to the Nation’s service members, wherever they serve,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, the Exchange’s senior enlisted advisor. “Many service members can’t be with family and friends during this special time of year. Having a traditional meal can take some of the sting out of being away from loved ones during the holidays.”

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