The United States Air Force has lofty traditions, many dating to the Air Force's inception on Sept. 18, 1948, when it officially became its own service. The UNM Air Force ROTC has its own traditions, including one that involves turkey and all the trimmings.

UNM Air Force ROTC officers and staff have annually, for more than a decade, prepared a Thanksgiving feast for their cadets. This year's dinner is served at the Detachment at Yale and Las Lomas on the UNM campus on Friday, Nov. 19 from 11 a.m. "until the food's gone," according to Lt. Col. Raul Garcia, Air Force ROTC commanding officer and professor of aerospace studies.

"The staff, the military cadre, cooks Thanksgiving dinner for the cadets," Garcia said. He said they also invite the officers from the other ROTC units on campus and staff from the Office of Student Affairs. Total guest list: 65.

We're not talkin' one turkey here, either. There will be three of them…60 pounds of gobbler, 40 pounds of ham, 30 pounds each of mashed potatoes and green beans.

Garcia prepares one turkey, Capt. Chris Fitzgerald is responsible for a second, and Administrative Assistant Elizabeth Yslas prepares both a turkey and a ham.

Student Specialist Judy Ortiz makes 10 pies, Garcia said, and Major Jennifer Bradley makes homemade cranberry sauce. "The sergeants bring rolls," he said.

Those who prepare the food also purchase it out of pocket, he said.

Who gets the leftovers? "We pack ‘em up in Ziploc® bags. The students live off of them during finals week," Garcia said.

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920; e-mail: