Troops on the frontline celebrate Thanksgiving

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(CBS News) – It’s Thanksgiving for U.S. service members overseas, but the mission doesn’t take a holiday and neither do the troops.

In Syria, soldiers patrol towns and villages. For Sergeant William Mills from the 82nd Airborne, it’s the little things he’s grateful for, like moments with local children. “It kind of takes your mind elsewhere, you kind of forget the situation you’re in. It’s nice to kinda just relax and hangout,” he says.

Slices of home like turkey and pie are all takeaway this year because of the pandemic.

Chief Medical Officer Chris Call thought his primary concern would be combat injuries, instead he’s set up quarantine wards at a base in northern Iraq for the more than 100 soldiers infected with the coronavirus. “COVID has really united us as a humanity on this base, as opposed to all of our individual units. It’s really, in a lot of ways, brought us together in a way that I never could have imagined,” he says.

But the spirit of the season isn’t lost on Specialist Sherif Tijaniabimbola. The apache mechanic immigrated from Nigeria four years ago. “I’m feeling grateful that I’m on a path to make a better life for my family. To make a better future for my child,” he says.

The U.S. is expected to withdraw about 500 of the 3,000 troops currently based in Iraq. About a thousand are still serving in Syria.

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