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TODAY   |  November 28, 2013

US troops in Afghanistan celebrate Thanksgiving

Soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan spent time reflecting, training and connecting with their new family. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> thanksgiving here in new york and all across the country. the celebration is already under way in afghanistan where, as you know, lots of american troops are stationed. nbc's richard engel is in africa on this thanksgiving morning. happy thanksgiving to you.

>> thank you, matt. there are still about 48,000 u.s. troops here in afghanistan . it is a privilege to be with some of them. as you can hear, the morale is high.

>> on fire base torkum, one of the last american outposts in eastern afghanistan by the border of pakistan, thanksgiving starts with a turkey trot it.

>> has to be at 5:30 in the morning.

>> 3.2 miles right up a mountain. they call it the climb to glory. hard enough, even harder carrying 80 pounds of mortar, or if you're not trained for this.

>> you've got to do two laps.

>> i thought it was the finish. thanks a lot.

>> reporter: a day to reflect and boost moral for chaos company.

>> back home many of our family will be having a football game in the backyard and preparing their turkeys. you would be doing that. but we're with our families today.

>> reporter: curtis perry was promoted to sergeant first class today, this is perry's fourth thanksgiving in iraq or afghanistan .

>> i guess being away from family, but the job, it's what we have to do.

>> reporter: in his room perry connects by internet with his wife kelly in florida and their daughter arabella. she's almost 3. chaos company is taking a down day. pistol shooting on a range and volleyball, the troops keep their weapons closeby. this base was attacked in september. there were no serious injuries. sergeant speak has a daughter named angel. she's with her mom in delaware.

>> i miss the turkey. i really have like, you know, a fried turkey.

>> reporter: at noon sharp, chow time. no fried turkey, but ham, stuffing, and sides. sparkling grape juice , and non-alcoholic beer. in an old military tradition, commanders serve the lower ranks.

>> it's all good telling them what to do. put me some meat on my plate.

>> reporter: a little taste of home in a war zone that at least here for a few hours today didn't much feel like one. and the soldiers here have one more thing they would like to say, and it is --

>> happy thanksgiving, america!

>> reporter: matt, savannah, back to you.

>> richard, thank you so much. and we would like to say thank you to them for their service.

>> not only in afghanistan but our men and women serving