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What Was Thanksgiving Like on an Aircraft Carrier in 1944?

What Was Thanksgiving Like on an Aircraft Carrier in 1944?

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When you’re at war, even the smallest reminder of home can be a great morale booster. And when the major holidays roll around and you’re somewhere far from your family, it can be incredibly depressing.

For those stationed on board the USS Intrepid, a WWII-era aircraft carrier that’s now docked at a pier on the west side of Manhattan, they got a little taste of home during Thanksgiving of 1944. For the holiday, a special menu was devised by the kitchen staff and served to the 3,000 servicemen that were stationed onboard.

We had the opportunity to visit the ship earlier this week, and learned some pretty amazing facts about onboard eating. Every day, the kitchen team had to prepare a lot of food. They went through 700 loaves of bread, 500 dozen eggs, 1,500 chickens, 1,500 pounds of potatoes, 3,000 steaks, and 5,000 pints of milk on your average day at sea, so devising, sourcing, and preparing this special menu, which was on display, must have involved a ton of work. We’re sure it was worth it, though, and it looks pretty outrageous.

Mixed olives, sweet pickles, fruit cocktail, and cream of asparagus soup were served for starters, followed by a main course of roast Princess Ann turkey (which was served at military Thanksgivings dating back at least as far as 1917), baked Virginia ham, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, celery apple nut dressing, candied yams, and snowflake potatoes (mashed potatoes mixed with sour cream, cream cheese, and spices). Additional side dishes included buttered peas, corn, carrot and raisin salad, and sweet mayonnaise dressing. For dessert, there was plum pudding, vanilla sauce, and apple pie à la mode, with iced orangeade and coffee to drink. And to cap off a veritable feast, cigars.

That’s a surprisingly sumptuous feast!

‘China may deploy aircraft carrier in Indian ocean’: US navy commander

The US Pacific Fleet Commander on Tuesday said there has been no reduction in Beijing’s assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea, a vital trade route in the global supply chain, and it continues to bully other nations in the strategic region.

Admiral John Aquilino, who is in India, met Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and other senior defence officials. He said he and Singh discussed ways to enhance cooperation and increase information-sharing and better integration between the two navies.

“The US and India have common values. We understand that the ability to operate in accordance with international laws and maritime environment only allows both of us to prosper as well as the rest of the nations in the area,” he said in an interaction with reporters.

The chief of the Hawai-based Pacific fleet said China’s military buildup in the disputed waters of the SCS threatens several countries, many of whom are American allies.

The dispute in the SCS is between China and several others over the control of the Spratly Islands. Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have staked their claim over the islands.

“I have seen continued bullying of nations in the region. I have seen islands or rocks turned into man-made islands and militarised despite the conversations about those being for defensive purpose,” Admiral Aquilino said in response to a question on whether he has seen any reduction in China muscling in the region.

“They challenge and threaten all the nations in the region — our allies, partners and friends. But none of those capabilities have been removed from those islands. So I would say there has been no reduction, and only an increase in pressure from China across the region to achieve their objectives.” China has militarised some of the reefs, inviting criticism from the claimants and also from countries like the US which have been advocating freedom of navigation in the region.

“Their increased military built up threatens the nations and partners in the area. threatens an open and free Indo-Pacific and that’s why I say they haven’t decreased,” the US commander added.

He said India and the US will continue to work for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Replying to a question on the possibility of a Chinese aircraft carrier battle group operating in the Indian ocean, he said this also reflects Beijing’s intent that it wants to operate in a much broader area.

“I would expect to see continued deployments and I would expect to see a carrier deployment. None of that should surprise anyone,” he said.

On increasing footprints of the Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean, he said this would only expand in coming years.

Admiral Aquilino said the US and India have operated aircraft carrier for a long period of time and they are viewed positively.

On China developing anti-ship missiles and fifth-generation aircraft, he said the increased weaponisation is a threat to all “free and like-minded” nations.

“There is no doubt that those weapons are designed to continue to threaten the nations that they may have disputes with and it increases the fact that the area is contested and it will be continued to be contested,” he said.

India, the US and Japan have been participating in naval drill. Australia has shown interest in joining it. When asked whether Australia would be a part of it, he said it was on India to decide that. “If India were to determine that they would like to invite Australia or anyone else to Malabar we would be supportive of that but Malabar is India’s exercise,” he said. Replying to a question on joint patrolling in the South China Sea, he said the US Navy is always interested to execute joint patrols. “At any point when our ships are in the vicinity my hope is that can quickly integrate based on our interoperability so come together very quickly and operate anywhere, anytime our partners choose,” he said. On China building bases in the Indian Ocean, he said many have been categorised as economic initiatives but have “absolute military intent” which have resulted in “predatory economics” that ultimately challenges the nation’s sovereignty.

Asked whether the navies of India and the US are looking at multilateral mechanisms involving other partners, he said there was no such plan.

“But if that were proposed by my Indian counterparts I would welcome it and we would figure out how to go ahead and do it,” he said.

The forces of India and the US are participating in a tri-services exercise next month.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

Potent Sting Is Prepared in the Belly of a Warship

ABOARD THE U.S.S. JOHN C. STENNIS, in the North Arabian Sea — Depending on who describes it, a nuclear aircraft carrier can be any number of things: an instrument of national will, a nemesis to be threatened and watched, a fast-moving and wide-ranging city at sea.

When you are aboard one, though, a carrier is an immense warren of spaces and passageways between bulkheads, each with a purpose. There are galleys and offices, stores and workshops, clinics and weight rooms, a barber shop, a recycling center, machine rooms, nuclear reactors and more.

And here was the room that gives the ship its sting: the primary bomb-assembly magazine.

On this night, 17 sailors had climbed through a small circular scuttle on the mess deck and then descended, handhold by foothold, deep below the water line to a space that few sailors see. Nine levels below the flight deck, behind a heavy locked door, in a large, brightly lighted room arrayed with firefighting sprinklers, a dozen BLU-111 bomb bodies rested on metal pallets on the nonskid floor.

It was late, and much of the ship’s crew was asleep. The carrier vibrated as its four screws cut through the dark sea off Pakistan’s southwestern coast.

Several sailors in red shirts took positions near a metal rack topped with rollers. Others carried large metal fins. Still more pried open boxes holding switches and fuzes. Three sailors lifted the first bomb body with an electric hoist, moving it toward what would soon become an assembly line.

A bomb-building session had begun.

American Navy officers have a line they repeat passionately and often: A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is an imposing and versatile manifestation of the United States’ power. A ship like the Stennis, they say, which was sending aircraft on missions over Iraq one day and over Afghanistan 36 hours later, allows Washington to project influence, unrestricted by borders or basing rights.

To that, Chief Petty Officer Jaime L. Evock, 33, added her own line.

She was watching over the sailors in the red shirts, the uniform that signifies ordnance handlers. They were putting together the parts that allow a carrier and its aircraft to reach inside another country and kill.

Whatever anyone thinks of air power, without munitions and the people who know them, she said, “this ship would just be a floating airport.”

There was something to this. At the end of the long chain of events that puts a carrier near a coastline and Navy strike fighters within range of a ground target, beyond the release point where the aircraft lets go of its ordnance, the final act lies with each missile or bomb descending through the air — which depends on the sailors who assembled it here.

On this night, the red shirts were handling a familiar staple. Each BLU-111 in the stack was a central part of a basic weapon of Western air-to-ground warfare — the general-purpose 500-pound bomb. Each contained 180 pounds of PBXN high explosive within an aerodynamic steel shell.

By itself, though, a bomb body is all but useless. That is where Chief Evock and her team came in: Their task was to carefully attach the components that made them live weapons. Think of a late-night game of Mr. Potato Head on the high seas.

Depending on the particular fins, fuzes and guidance packages that are attached, a BLU-111 can turn into a smart bomb guided by laser or GPS, or any of several kinds of “dumb” bombs, or an undersea mine. The weapon can be configured to penetrate a bunker, or to burrow into the dirt before bursting, thereby reducing the amount of lethal shrapnel and the intensity of the blast wave, to reduce the risk to noncombatants or unwanted damage to property. On this night Chief Evock’s team was filling orders from the carrier’s F/A-18 squadrons for a dozen unguided high-explosive bombs. Between flights to Afghanistan, air crews use these for training runs to maintain their qualifications.

The necessary parts had been carried here from a network of feeder magazines spread through the ship. Petty Officer Second Class Shawn M. Scheffler, 26, walked along the rack of parts as sailors called out lot numbers, compiling what is called a build sheet for each bomb.

For those expecting jangled nerves and beads of sweat as sailors handle explosives, this was the wrong place. Until assembled, released and armed, these bombs are stable. The red shirts worked methodically, with practiced precision and without the dramatic flair seen in “The Hurt Locker,” which covered the handling of explosives of a different sort.

Once the rear fuzes were inserted and set and the fins attached and tightened down, each bomb was ready to be rolled by cart to an elevator that would carry it up to the flight deck. Up there the bombs would be guarded in an area called the bomb farm, waiting to be fitted to aircraft.

The first of the bombs this night were ready in perhaps 10 minutes. Petty Officer First Class Joshua J. Austring, 28, roamed the line, ensuring that the components were tightened to the correct torque.

“Numerous things can go wrong,” he said. “We want to make sure that when the pilots are out there for the Marines, and the Marines ask for something to be dropped, that it is going to work.”

Throughout the process, the petty officers kept records, documenting each step in the assembly the record sheets will follow each bomb to an aircraft, and through its eventual use.

If a weapon does not function properly, they said, the information on the sheets can be shared with explosive ordnance disposal teams on the ground to help make an unexploded bomb safe. They can also be used to identify mistakes by the red shirts. “If there is a dud, it comes back to me,” Petty Officer Scheffler said.

The sheets are also used when a bomb is flown on a sortie but not dropped it is returned to this space to be disassembled and all the components accounted for.

Behind Petty Officer Scheffler was the handiwork of previous shifts: bombs to be guided by laser, bombs with GPS antennas in their tails, bombs to explode on impact or in midair.

The Stennis was wrapping up its tour in the Middle East and the Arabian Sea. Soon it would hand off responsibility for providing air support in Afghanistan to another carrier steaming its way.

The red shirts this night did not yet know it, but none of the bombs they assembled would be dropped in Afghanistan, where the use of air-to-ground force has declined as the conditions and tactics on the ground have changed. They would soon be broken back down and the parts checked and stored, and the Stennis’s bow pointed east, toward home.


The concept of American football games being played on Thanksgiving Day dates back to 1876, shortly after the game had been invented, as it was a day that most people had off from work. In that year, the college football teams at Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other on Thanksgiving Day. [1] The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, holding 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and the Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as "The Beginning of Thanksgiving Day Football." [7] In some areas, most commonly in New England, high-school teams play on Thanksgiving, usually to wrap-up the regular-season.

By the time football had become a professional event, playing on Thanksgiving had already become an institution. Records of pro football being played on Thanksgiving date back to as early as the 1890s, with the first pro–am team, the Allegheny Athletic Association of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1902, the National Football League, a Major League Baseball-backed organization based entirely in Pennsylvania and unrelated to the current NFL, attempted to settle its championship over Thanksgiving weekend after the game ended in a tie, eventually all three teams in the league claimed to have won the title. Members of the Ohio League, during its early years, usually placed their marquee matchups on Thanksgiving Day. For instance, in 1905 and 1906 the Latrobe Athletic Association and Canton Bulldogs, considered at the time to be two of the best teams in professional football (along with the Massillon Tigers), played on Thanksgiving. A rigging scandal with the Tigers leading up to the 1906 game led to severe drops in attendance for the Bulldogs and ultimately led to their suspension of operations. During the 1910s, the Ohio League stopped holding Thanksgiving games because many of its players coached high school teams and were unavailable. This was not the case in other regional circuits: in 1919, the New York Pro Football League featured a Thanksgiving matchup between the Buffalo Prospects and the Rochester Jeffersons. The game ended in a scoreless tie, leading to a rematch the next Sunday for the league championship.

Several other NFL teams played regularly on Thanksgiving in the first eighteen years of the league, including the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals (1922–33 the Bears played the Lions from 1934 to 1938 while the Cardinals switched to the Green Bay Packers for 1934 and 1935), Frankford Yellow Jackets, Pottsville Maroons, Buffalo All-Americans, Canton Bulldogs (even after the team moved to Cleveland they played the 1924 Thanksgiving game in Canton), and the New York Giants (1929–38, who always played a crosstown rival). The first owner of the Lions, George A. Richards, started the tradition of the Thanksgiving Day game as a gimmick to get people to go to Lions football games, and to continue a tradition begun by the city's previous NFL teams. [8] What differentiated the Lions' efforts from other teams that played on the holiday was that Richards owned radio station WJR, a major affiliate of the NBC Blue Network (the forerunner to today's American Broadcasting Company) he was able to negotiate an agreement with NBC to carry his Thanksgiving games live across the network. [9]

During the Franksgiving controversy in 1939 and 1940, the only two teams to play the game were the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, as both teams were in the same state (Pennsylvania). (At the time, then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt wanted to move the holiday for economic reasons and many states were resistant to the move half the states recognized the move and the other half did not. This complicated scheduling for Thanksgiving games. Incidentally, the two teams were also exploring the possibility of a merger at the time. [10] ) Because of the looming World War II and the resulting shorter seasons, the NFL did not schedule any Thanksgiving games in 1941, nor did it schedule any in the subsequent years until the war ended in 1945. When the Thanksgiving games resumed in 1945, only the Lions' annual home game would remain on the Thanksgiving holiday. In 1951, the Packers began a thirteen-season run as the perpetual opponent to the Lions each year through 1963.

The All-America Football Conference and American Football League, both of which would later be absorbed into the NFL, also held Thanksgiving contests, although neither of those leagues had permanent hosts. Likewise, the AFL of 1926 also played two Thanksgiving games in its lone season of existence, while the AFL of 1936 hosted one in its first season, which featured the Cleveland Rams, a future NFL team, and the 1940–41 incarnation of the American Football League played two games in 1940 on the earlier "Franksgiving" date.

In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys, who had been founded six years earlier, adopted the practice of hosting Thanksgiving games. It is widely rumored that the Cowboys sought a guarantee that they would regularly host Thanksgiving games as a condition of their very first one (since games on days other than Sunday were uncommon at the time and thus high attendance was not a certainty). [11] This is only partly true Dallas had in fact decided on their own to host games on Thanksgiving because there was nothing else to do or watch on that day. In 1975 and 1977, at the behest of then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle, the St. Louis Cardinals replaced Dallas as a host team (Dallas then hosted St. Louis in 1976). Although the Cardinals, at the time known as the "Cardiac Cards" due to their propensity for winning very close games, were a modest success at the time, they were nowhere near as popular nationwide as the Cowboys, who were regular Super Bowl contenders during this era. This, combined with St. Louis's consistently weak attendance, a series of ugly Cardinals losses in the three-game stretch, and opposition from the Kirkwood–Webster Groves Turkey Day Game (a local high school football contest) led to Dallas resuming regular hosting duties in 1978 it was then, after Rozelle asked Dallas to resume hosting Thanksgiving games, that the Cowboys requested (and received) an agreement guaranteeing the Cowboys a spot on Thanksgiving Day forever. [12]

Since 1978, Thanksgiving games have been hosted in Detroit and Dallas every year, with Detroit in the early time slot and Dallas in the late afternoon slot. Because of television network commitments in place through the 2013 season, to make sure that both the AFC-carrying network (NBC from 1965 to 1997, and CBS since 1998) and the NFC-carrying network (CBS from 1956 to 1993, and Fox since 1994) got at least one game each, one of these games was between NFC opponents, and one featured AFC-NFC opponents. Thus, the AFC could showcase only one team on Thanksgiving, and the AFC team was always the visiting team.

Since 2006, a third NFL game on Thanksgiving has been played in primetime. It originally aired on the NFL Network as part of its Thursday Night Football package until 2011, and has been broadcast on NBC since 2012 as part of its Sunday Night Football package. The night game never had any conference tie-ins, meaning the league could place any game into the time slot. Since NBC took over the primetime game in 2012, divisional matchups have been scheduled, with the exception being in 2016 with an intra-conference game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts. In 2014, a series of changes to the broadcast contracts freed CBS from its obligation to carry an AFC team by 2018, the last vestiges of conference ties to the Thanksgiving games were eliminated (in practice, games on Fox remain all-NFC contests).

The originally scheduled 2020 primetime game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed to the following Wednesday, December 2, after multiple Baltimore players and staff tested positive for COVID-19 in the days before the game. This thus marked the first time no primetime contest was held since 2005. [13]

Throwback uniforms Edit

Since 2001 teams playing on Thanksgiving have worn throwback uniforms on numerous occasions. In 2002, it extended to nearly all games of the weekend, and in some cases also involved classic field logos at the stadiums.

From 2001 to 2003, Dallas chose to represent the 1990s Cowboys dynasty by wearing the navy "Double-Star" jersey not seen since 1995. In 2004, the team wore uniforms not seen since 1963. In 2009, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AFL, both Dallas and Oakland played in a "AFL Legacy Game." In 2013, the Cowboys intended to wear their 1960s throwbacks, but chose not to do so after the NFL adopted a new policy requiring players and teams to utilize only one helmet a season to address the league's new concussion protocol rather than sport an incomplete throwback look, the Cowboys instead wore their standard blue jerseys at home for the first time since 1963. [14] In 2015, the Cowboys resurrected their 1994 white "Double-Star" jerseys only this time wore them with white pants as part of the league's Color Rush, a trial run of specially-designed, monochromatic jerseys to be worn during Thursday games.

In 2001–2004, and again in 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018 the Detroit Lions have worn throwback uniforms based on their very early years. For 2019, Detroit wore its silver Color Rush uniforms.

Memorable games Edit

  • 1920: An urban legend states that the Chicago Tigers and Decatur Staleys challenged each other to a Thanksgiving duel, in Chicago, in the league's inaugural season, with the loser being relegated out of the league at the end of the season, purportedly explaining why the Tigers were the only NFL team to fold after the 1920 season (no other team would fold until 1921). The claims of it being a duel are unsubstantiated nevertheless, the Tigers, after a 27–0 win over the non-league Thorn Tornadoes the next week, never played football again. The Staleys would move to Chicago during the next season, later renaming themselves the Bears. [15]
  • 1921: In a matchup of two of the league's best teams, the Staleys lose to the Buffalo All-Americans at home. The Staleys demand a rematch, with Buffalo agreeing to a December match only on the terms of it being considered an off-the-record exhibition game. That later match, which Chicago won, ended up counting despite the All-Americans' insistence, controversially handing Chicago the championship.
  • 1929: Ernie Nevers scores 40 points—an NFL record that still stands, and the entirety of the Chicago Cardinals' scoring that day (including the extra points)—in a rout over their crosstown rivals the Bears, who scored only 6 points.
  • 1952: The Dallas Texans are forced to move their lone remaining home game to the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio as the undercard to a high school football contest. Their opponent for that game, the Chicago Bears, underestimated the then-winless Texans and sent their second string team to the game the Texans scored a 27–23 upset over the Bears for their only win of their existence.
  • 1962: The Lions handed the 10–0 Green Bay Packers their lone defeat of the season. The game was dubbed the "Thanksgiving Day Massacre" due to the dominant performance by the Lions defense, who sacked Bart Starr 11 times. [16][17]
  • 1964–65: The 1964 and 1965 AFL contests featured the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers, the two teams that would eventually meet in those years' American Football League Championship Games.
  • 1974: Unknown Cowboys backup quarterback Clint Longley took over for an injured Roger Staubach with the team down 16–3 and rallied them to an improbable victory over Washington on two deep passes.
  • 1976: The Bills offense put forth one of the best and the worst performances in Thanksgiving history. O. J. Simpson set the NFL record for most rushing yards in a single game, with 273. However, Bills backup quarterback Gary Marangi completed only 4 of 21 pass attempts, for 29 yards passing, and a rating of 19.7. The Lions defeated the Bills 27–14. [18]
  • 1980: With the Lions and Bears tied 17–17 at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime, the first Thanksgiving game to do so (overtime was not added to the NFL regular season until 1974), and the first overtime game at the Silverdome. Bears running back Dave Williams returned the fifth-quarter opening kickoff 95 yards for a game-winning touchdown, ending the shortest overtime period in NFL history at the time (13 seconds).
  • 1986: The Lions and the Packers had the second-highest scoring game in Thanksgiving history (the highest-scoring game came in 1951). It was the best day of receiver Walter Stanley's career Stanley netted 207 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including an 83-yard punt return to win the game for Green Bay, 44–40. Stanley had an otherwise undistinguished career in the NFL.
  • 1989: Known as the "Bounty Bowl", the Eagles crushed the Cowboys by a score of 27–0. Allegations surfaced that the Eagles had placed a bounty on the Cowboys kicker, thus becoming the first of a string of three bitterly contested games between the two teams, the other two being Bounty Bowl II and the Porkchop Bowl a year later.
  • 1993: In one of the more famous Thanksgiving Day games in recent history, the Cowboys led the Dolphins 14–13 with just seconds remaining in a rare, snow-filled Texas Stadium. Miami's Pete Stoyanovich attempted a game winning 40-yard field goal that was blocked by the Cowboys' Jimmie Jones. Dick Enberg (who was calling the game for NBC) proclaimed "The Cowboys will win." Indeed, since the kick landed beyond the line of scrimmage, once the ball stopped moving the play would be declared dead and Dallas would gain possession. However, the ball landed and began spinning on its tip, leading Cowboys lineman Leon Lett to try to gain possession. Lett slipped, fell, and knocked the ball forward. By rule, the ball was live and the Dolphins fell on it at the two yard line. With the recovery, Stoyanovich got a second chance to win the game and hit the much shorter field goal. The Dolphins won 16–14. [19]
  • 1994:Troy Aikman was injured and third-string quarterback (and future Cowboys coach) Jason Garrett was forced to start for Dallas against the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys won a 42–31 shoot-out against Brett Favre.
  • 1998: In another controversial Thanksgiving Day game, the Steelers and Lions went to overtime tied 16–16. Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis called the coin toss in the air, but head referee Phil Luckett awarded Detroit the ball after Bettis tried to call both heads and tails at the same time. The Lions went on to kick a field goal on the first possession, winning 19–16. As a result of the fiasco, team captains are now required to call the coin toss before the coin is tossed, and a later rule change now prevents teams from automatically winning a game by scoring a field goal on the first possession. The day also saw a memorable performance by the Minnesota Vikings in a 46–36 win over the Dallas Cowboys as Vikings rookie Randy Moss caught three touchdowns, all of over 50 yards.
  • 2008: The 10–1 Titans routed the 0–11 Lions by a score of 47–10, one of the most lopsided results in history on Thanksgiving. The Lions would go on to finish the season 0–16, clinching the 33rd [20] winless season in NFL history, and the first under the 16-game schedule.
  • 2011: The trio of games [21] was lauded as one of the better Thanksgiving Day slates of games in NFL history. [22] The night game between Baltimore and San Francisco pitted head coaches and brothers John and Jim Harbaugh against each other – a preview of Super Bowl XLVII.
  • 2012: The prime time contest became infamous for the "Butt fumble", an incident in which Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez ran headfirst into the buttocks of his own offensive lineman. He subsequently fumbled the ball it was recovered by New England, who returned it for a touchdown. In the earlier game, one of the NFL's most infamous rule changes came when former Lions coach Jim Schwartz challenged a play in which Texans running back Justin Forsett's knee clearly touched the ground before sprinting for an 81-yard touchdown. Referee Walt Coleman stated that, by rule, scoring plays are automatically reviewed and the play was not challengeable by a coach. Because of the improperly attempted challenge, the review was cancelled and Coleman assessed a 15-yard kickoff penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. The NFL then passed a new rule that stated that if a coach attempted to challenge a play that is automatically reviewed, the review would continue. It was called the 'Jim Schwartz rule'.

Home team controversy Edit

It has remained a tradition for Dallas and Detroit to host the afternoon games dating several decades. Other teams eventually expressed interest in hosting Thanksgiving games. Lamar Hunt, the former owner of the Chiefs (who had hosted Thanksgiving games from 1967 to 1969 as an AFL team prior to the merger), lobbied heavily in favor of his team hosting a game on the holiday. When the NFL adopted a third, prime time game, the Chiefs were selected as the first team to host such a contest, but the team was not made a permanent host, and Hunt's death shortly after the 2006 contest ended the lobbying on behalf of the team.

The host issue came to a head in 2008, focusing particularly on the winless Lions. Going into the game, Detroit had lost their last four Thanksgiving games, and opinions amongst the media had suggested removing Detroit and replacing them with a more attractive matchup. [ citation needed ] The team also required an extension to prevent a local television blackout. [23] The Lions were routed by Tennessee 47–10, en route to the team's 0–16 season. [24] NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that the Lions would stay on Thanksgiving for the 2009 season, but kept the issue open to revisit in the future. [25] [26]

Conversely, the Dallas Cowboys, who typically represent a larger television draw, [27] have had many fewer public calls to be replaced on Thanksgiving. One issue that has been debated is a perceived unfair advantage of playing at home on Thanksgiving. [28] The advantage is given in the form of an extra day of practice for the home team while the road team has to travel to the game site. This is true for most Thursday games, but with the night games, the visitor can travel to the game site after practice on Wednesday and hold the final walk-thru the following morning.

With the introduction of the prime time game, which effectively allows all teams in the league an opportunity to play on Thanksgiving, along with the introduction of year-long Thursday Night Football ensuring all teams have one Thursday game during the regular season (thus negating any on-field advantages or disadvantages to being selected for Thanksgiving), the calls for Detroit and Dallas to be removed have curtailed.

(Winning teams are denoted by boldface type tie games are italicized.)

1920–1940 Edit

  • All three of the generally recognized iterations of the American Football League that played during this era (AFL I in 1926, AFL II in 1936 and AFL III in 1940) played Thanksgiving games, which are also listed as indicated.
  • Non-NFL team games between league teams and non league teams counted in the 1920 standings. The All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks later joined the league as the Tonawanda Kardex, albeit only for one game.
  • Thanksgiving fell on the final Thursday in November until 1938 and was held on two conflicting days from 1939 to 1941.
Season Visiting Team Score Home Team Score
November 25, 1920 Canton Bulldogs 0 Akron Pros 7
Decatur Staleys 6 Chicago Tigers 0
Detroit Heralds 0 Dayton Triangles 28
Columbus Panhandles 0 Elyria Athletics* 0
Hammond Pros 0 Chicago Boosters* 27
All-Tonawanda * 14 Rochester Jeffersons 3
November 24, 1921 Canton Bulldogs 14 Akron Pros 0
Buffalo All-Americans 7 Chicago Staleys 6
November 30, 1922 Buffalo All-Americans 21 Rochester Jeffersons 0
Chicago Bears 0 Chicago Cardinals 6
Milwaukee Badgers 0 Racine Legion 3
Oorang Indians 18 Columbus Panhandles 6
Akron Pros 0 Canton Bulldogs 14
November 29, 1923 Toledo Maroons 0 Canton Bulldogs 28
Chicago Cardinals 0 Chicago Bears 3
Hammond Pros 0 Green Bay Packers 19
Milwaukee Badgers 16 Racine Legion 0
November 27, 1924 Buffalo Bisons 0 Akron Pros 22
Chicago Bears 21 Chicago Cardinals 0
Dayton Triangles 7 Frankford Yellow Jackets 32
Milwaukee Badgers 10 Cleveland Bulldogs
(at Canton)
Green Bay Packers 17 Kansas City Blues 6
November 26, 1925 Chicago Cardinals 0 Chicago Bears 0
Kansas City Cowboys 17 Cleveland Bulldogs
(at Hartford)
Rock Island Independents 6 Detroit Panthers 3
Green Bay Packers 0 Pottsville Maroons 31
November 25, 1926 New York Giants 17 Brooklyn Lions 0
Los Angeles Buccaneers 9 Detroit Panthers 6
Chicago Cardinals 0 Chicago Bears 0
Green Bay Packers 14 Frankford Yellow Jackets 20
Providence Steam Roller 0 Pottsville Maroons 8
Akron Pros 0 Canton Bulldogs 0
(AFL I) Los Angeles Wildcats 0 Chicago Bulls 0
(AFL I) Philadelphia Quakers 13 New York Yankees 10
November 24, 1927 Chicago Cardinals 3 Chicago Bears 0
Providence Steam Roller 0 Pottsville Maroons 6
Green Bay Packers 17 Frankford Yellow Jackets 9
Cleveland Bulldogs 30 New York Yankees 19

1945–1959 Edit

  • No Thanksgiving games were held from 1941 to 1944 due to World War II.
  • Thanksgiving games were played on the fourth Thursday in November from 1945 onward.
  • The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) also played Thanksgiving games from 1946 to 1949.

1960–1969 Edit

  • The American Football League (AFL) also played Thanksgiving Day games during this decade.
  • The Dallas Cowboys started playing their traditional series in 1966.

1970–2005 Edit

  • From 1970 to 2005, three NFC teams and one AFC team played each Thanksgiving.
  • The two afternoon games were held at Detroit (12:30 p.m. EST) and Dallas (4:15 p.m. EST), respectively. Detroit always hosted the "early" game because a 12:30 p.m. EST kick-off at Dallas would be 11:30 a.m. local time (CST), and the NFL avoids starting games before noon locally. The two games rotated annually as intra-conference (NFC at NFC) and inter-conference (AFC at NFC) games. This was to satisfy the television contract balance between CBS (which broadcasts games in which the visiting team is from the AFC) and Fox (which broadcasts games in which the visiting team is from the NFC).
  • The "early" game kick off is a special time of 12:30 p.m. EST as opposed to the typical afternoon start time of 1 p.m. This provides an additional thirty minutes to prevent overlapping of the "late" game, and also gave the network time for a pregame show and some additional time for an expanded halftime show (selected years). When Fox carries the "early" game, they typically start their pregame coverage (Fox NFL Sunday) at 11:30 a.m. (with the addition of Fox NFL Kickoff to the Fox lineup, its pregame will begin at 10:30 a.m. for 2015). When CBS carries the "early" game, they start their pregame coverage (The NFL Today) at 12:00 p.m., due to the fact that their morning parade coverage runs until noon. The network with the 4:15 "late" game begins pregame coverage at 3:30 p.m. EST.
  • Dallas was replaced by the St. Louis Cardinals as a host team in 1975 and 1977 Dallas and St. Louis faced each other at Texas Stadium in 1976. Because of the Missouri Turkey Day Game, the long-established Kirkwood–Webster Groveshigh school football game that takes place on Thanksgiving in St. Louis, weak fan support in St. Louis, and general national preference of the Cowboys over the historically weaker Cardinals, the Cardinals' hosting of the Thanksgiving game was not popular. Dallas returned to hosting the game in 1978 and has hosted since. Likewise, the Rams never played on Thanksgiving while in St. Louis, in part because of the Turkey Day Game and also because the Missouri State High School Activities Association has held its state football championship games on Thanksgiving weekend at The Dome at America's Center since 1996.
  • After the NFL division realignment in 2002, no team from the AFC North could play a Thanksgiving Day game against the traditional hosts. This was because under the current rotation, the Cowboys and the Lions each play AFC North teams in years that Fox is scheduled to broadcast its Thanksgiving Day game, requiring an NFC opponent. The last game to feature a team currently in the AFC North was the Lions matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1998. AFC North teams could play in the prime time game, as the Bengals did in 2010. With the advent of games being flexed to other networks starting around 2014, this is no longer an issue.

2006–present Edit

  • Since 2006, three contests have been scheduled for Thanksgiving. In addition to the traditional Detroit and Dallas home afternoon games, a third game is now played in primetime and televised by NFL Network (2006–2011) or NBC (since 2012). Current plans call for the various NFL teams (other than the Lions and Cowboys) to take turns hosting the night game on a rotation basis.
  • In 2006, Kansas City hosted the first prime time Thanksgiving game. The game marked a new "Thanksgiving Tripleheader" tradition. The Denver/Kansas City game marked the first time more than two games were played on Thanksgiving (as well as the first all-AFC holiday matchup) since the AFL–NFL merger in 1970.
  • The 2014 season was the first in which all three games featured NFC vs. NFC opponents. There were also all-NFC matchups in 2015 and 2018. [29][30]2017 and 2019 each featured five NFC teams and only one participating AFC team.
  • Since 2012, the prime time game has been held between division rivals every year, with the exception of 2016 which featured the Indianapolis Colts hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers, and 2021 which will feature the New Orleans Saints hosting the Buffalo Bills.
  • The originally scheduled 2020 prime time game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers was postponed to Sunday, November 29 and eventually again to Wednesday, December 2 after multiple Baltimore players and staff tested positive for COVID-19 in the days before the game. This thus marked the first time no Thanksgiving prime time contest was held since 2005. [13]

Of current NFL franchises. This includes American Football League (AFL) games however, it does not include All-America Football Conference (AAFC) games.

Team Games played First game Most recent Wins Losses Ties Win % Other names appeared under
Arizona Cardinals 21 1922 2008 6 15 2 .304 Chicago Cardinals (1920–1959)
St. Louis Cardinals (1960–1987)
Phoenix Cardinals (1988–1993)
Atlanta Falcons 4 2005 2019 1 3 0 .250
Baltimore Ravens 2 2011 2013 2 0 0 1.000
Buffalo Bills 9 1961 2019 4 4 1 .500 Does not include 1–0 record of unrelated AAFC team of same name.
Carolina Panthers 1 2015 2015 1 0 0 1.000
Chicago Bears 36 1920 2019 19 15 2 .556 Decatur Staleys (1920)
Chicago Staleys (1921)
Cincinnati Bengals 1 2010 2010 0 1 0 .000
Cleveland Browns 3 1966 1989 0 3 0 .000 Does not include 3–0 record when team was a member of the AAFC.
Dallas Cowboys 53 1966 2020 31 21 1 .594
Denver Broncos 11 1962 2009 4 7 0 .364
Detroit Lions 81 1934 2020 37 42 2 .469 Portsmouth Spartans (1930-1933)
Green Bay Packers 36 1923 2015 14 20 2 .417
Houston Texans 2 2012 2020 2 0 0 1.000
Indianapolis Colts 4 1965 2016 2 1 1 .625 Baltimore Colts (1953–1983)
Jacksonville Jaguars 0 Never Never 0 0 0 Only active franchise to have never played on Thanksgiving.
Kansas City Chiefs 10 1967 2006 5 5 0 .500 Dallas Texans (1960–1962), does not include 1–0 record of unrelated NFL Dallas Texans.
Las Vegas Raiders 7 1963 2013 3 4 0 .429 Oakland Raiders (1960-1981 1995-2019)
Los Angeles Raiders (1982-1994)
Los Angeles Chargers 5 1964 2017 3 1 1 .700 San Diego Chargers (1961–2016)
Los Angeles Rams 5 1936 1975 4 1 0 .800 Cleveland Rams (1936–1945)
St. Louis Rams (1995–2015)
Miami Dolphins 7 1973 2011 5 2 0 .714
Minnesota Vikings 8 1969 2017 6 2 0 .750
New England Patriots 5 1984 2012 3 2 0 .600 Boston Patriots (1960-1970)
New Orleans Saints 3 2010 2019 3 0 0 1.000
New York Giants 15 1926 2017 7 5 3 .567
New York Jets 8 1960 2012 4 4 0 .500 New York Titans (1960–1962)
Philadelphia Eagles 7 1939 2015 6 1 0 .857
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 1939 2016 2 6 0 .250
San Francisco 49ers 5 1966 2014 2 2 1 .500 Does not include 1–0 record when team was a member of the AAFC.
Seattle Seahawks 4 1980 2014 2 2 0 .500
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 2006 2006 0 1 0 .000
Tennessee Titans 7 1968 2008 5 2 0 .714 Houston Oilers (1960–1996)
Tennessee Oilers (1997–1998)
Washington Football Team 12 1968 2020 4 8 0 .333 Boston Braves (1932)
Boston Redskins (1933-1936)
Washington Redskins (1937–2019)

Notable appearance droughts Edit

The last currently active franchise to have never played on Thanksgiving through 2021 is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who joined the league in 1995.

An idiosyncrasy in the NFL's current scheduling formula, which has been in effect in its basic form since 2002, effectively prevented teams from the AFC North from playing the Lions or Cowboys on Thanksgiving, as the formula had the AFC North playing in Dallas or Detroit in years when the other team was slated to play the AFC game on Thanksgiving. These teams, under the television contracts in place at the time, could only play in the third (night) game. With the changes in the scheduling practices in 2014, the division is no longer barred from participating in the game (since both CBS and Fox can choose teams from either conference because of the idiosyncrasy, the AFC North team would, if chosen, always play on Fox). In practice, Fox has never carried an AFC team on Thanksgiving and all of the AFC North's appearances have been in the night game.

The Los Angeles Rams have the longest active appearance drought of any team, with their last appearance coming in 1975. Among current NFL markets, Cleveland has had the longest wait to have a team from its city play on Thanksgiving the Browns last appeared in 1989, six years before suspending operations in 1995, and have not appeared in the game since rejoining the league as an expansion team in 1999.

Since 2010, several appearance droughts have ended. New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston, and Carolina all played their first Thanksgiving games during this time frame. San Francisco likewise played their first Thanksgiving game since 1972 in 2011, and the Los Angeles Chargers, who last played on the holiday in 1969 (while the team was still an AFL franchise in San Diego) before actually joining the league, appeared for the first time as an NFL member in 2017. [31]

Thanksgiving Day records of defunct teams Edit

League teams only, since 1920.
Team Wins Losses Ties Win Pct. Other names appeared under
Frankford Yellow Jackets 2 0 1.000 Defunct (1931)
New York Yankees * 2 0 1.000 Defunct (1949)
Pottsville Maroons 2 0 1.000 Defunct (1928)
Boston Yanks 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1948)
Buffalo Bills * 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1949), unrelated to current NFL team with this name
Dallas Texans 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1952), does not count AFL's Dallas Texans, which are now the Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Buccaneers 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1926)
Oorang Indians 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1923)
Rock Island Independents 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1925)
All-Tonawanda Lumberjacks 1 0 1.000 Defunct (1921)
Akron Pros 3 1 1 .700 Defunct (1926)
Buffalo Bisons 1 1 1 .500 Buffalo All-Americans (1920–1923), Defunct (1929)
Canton Bulldogs 1 1 1 .500 Defunct (1926)
Cleveland Bulldogs 1 1 .500 Defunct (1927)
Dayton Triangles 1 1 .500 Defunct (1929)
Kansas City Cowboys 1 1 .500 Kansas City Blues (1924), Defunct (1926)
Milwaukee Badgers 1 1 .500 Defunct (1926)
Brooklyn Lions 0 1 .000 Defunct (1926)
Chicago Tigers 0 1 .000 Defunct (1920)
Detroit Heralds 0 1 .000 Defunct (1920)
New York Yanks 0 1 .000 Defunct (1950)
Providence Steam Roller 0 1 .000 Defunct (1931)
Racine Legion 0 1 .000 Defunct (1926)
Toledo Maroons 0 1 .000 Defunct (1923)
Brooklyn Dodgers * 0 2 .000 Defunct (1949)
Chicago Hornets * 0 2 .000 Chicago Rockets (1946–1948), Defunct (1949)
Columbus Panhandles 0 2 .000 Defunct (1926)
Detroit Panthers 0 2 .000 Defunct (1926)
Hammond Pros 0 2 .000 Defunct (1926)
Rochester Jeffersons 0 2 .000 Defunct (1925)
Los Angeles Dons * 0 3 .000 Defunct (1949)

Most frequent match-ups among active teams Edit

Count Matchup Record Years Played
21 Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Lions, 12–8–1 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1984, 1986, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013
18 Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Bears, 10–8 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1947, 1949, 1964, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2014, 2018, 2019
12 Arizona Cardinals vs. Chicago Bears Bears, 7–3–2 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933
10 Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team Cowboys, 8–2 1968, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1996, 2002, 2012, 2016, 2018, 2020
5 Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings Vikings, 3–2 1969, 1988, 1995, 2016, 2017
5 Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins Dolphins, 3–2 1973, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2011
4 Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys Cowboys, 4–0 1967, 1976, 1983, 1985
4 Detroit Lions vs. Kansas City Chiefs Tie, 2–2 1971, 1981, 1987, 1996

Since 1989, informal and sometimes lighthearted Man of the Match/MVP awards have been issued by the networks broadcasting the respective games. Running back Emmitt Smith holds the record for most Thanksgiving MVPs with five (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 2002). Voting on the respective awards is typically done informally by the announcing crew, and criteria are loose. Noteworthy statistical accomplishments weigh heavily, and "group" awards are not uncommon. The announcement of the winner(s), and the presentation of the award is normally done immediately following the game, during post-game network coverage.

Turkey Leg Award (CBS & Fox) Edit

In 1989, John Madden of CBS awarded the first "Turkey Leg Award", for the game's most valuable player. Pursuant to its name, it was an actual cooked turkey leg, and players typically took a celebratory bite out of the leg for the cameras during post-game interviews. Reggie White of the Eagles was the first recipient. The gesture was seen mostly as a humorous gimmick relating to Madden's famous multi-legged turkey, [32] cooked and delivered by local restaurant owner Joe Pat Fieseler of Harvey's Barbecue (located less than a mile from Texas Stadium). Since then, however, the award has gained subtle notoriety. Madden brought the award to Fox in 1994, and it continued through 2001.

Because of the loose and informal nature of the award, at times it has been awarded to multiple players. On one occasion in 1994, it was given to players of both teams.

Galloping Gobbler / Game Ball / WWE Championship Belt (Fox) Edit

When John Madden left Fox after 2001, the network introduced a new award starting in 2002, named the "Galloping Gobbler." It was represented by a small figurine of a cartoonish, silver turkey wearing a football helmet [33] striking a Heisman-like pose. [34] Much like Cleatus and Digger, the original Galloping Gobbler trophy reflected Fox's irreverent mascots, and went through several iterations. [33] Unimpressed by its tackiness after having won four Turkey Legs in the 1990s, the inaugural winner, Emmitt Smith, famously threw the 2002 award into a trash can. [33]

In 2007, the kitschy statuette was replaced with a bronze-colored statue of a nondescript turkey holding a football. [34] In 2011, the trophies were discarded altogether and replaced by an attractive plaque. Unlike the aforementioned "Turkey Leg Award", the "Galloping Gobbler" is normally awarded to only one player annually, [35] however in 2016, co-winners were honored. [36]

For 2017, the Galloping Gobbler was permanently retired, and replaced with the "Game Ball," a stylish, ornate football-shaped trophy, reminiscent of the tradition where game-used balls are typically awarded to players of the game. No one at Fox seemed to notice the first ball awarded had the stripe markings of a college ball (with stripes on each lace-end of the ball NFL game balls have no stripes).

As Fox had signed a deal with the WWE to air SmackDown, the Game Ball was replaced by a WWE Championship Belt in 2019. Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears became the first recipient of the belt.

All-Iron Award (CBS) Edit

When the NFL returned to CBS in 1998, they introduced their own award, the "All-Iron Award", which is, suitably enough, a small silver iron, a reference to Phil Simms' All-Iron team for toughness. The All-Iron winner also receives a skillet of blackberry cobbler made by Simms' mother.

Through 2006, the trophy was only awarded to one player annually. Occasionally, it has been issued as a "group award" in addition to a single player award. In 2008, Simms stated it was "too close to call" and named four players to the trophy he then gave the award to several people every year until 2013, after which he reverted to a single MVP in 2014.

Simms was removed from the broadcast booth for the 2017 season in favor of Tony Romo, who did not carry on the tradition. Instead, the "Chevrolet Player of the Game" award was extended to CBS' Thanksgiving Day game. As in CBS' regular Sunday afternoon NFL coverage as well as Fox's regular NFL coverage, Chevrolet will donate money in the player's name to the United Way if the game is played in Detroit, the Salvation Army if the Thanksgiving Day game is played in Dallas.

For the 2019 season, CBS revived the Turkey Leg Award, awarding it to Josh Allen. [37]

Prime time games (NFLN & NBC) Edit

During the time when NFL Network held the broadcast rights the prime time game, from 2007 to 2011 they gave out the "Pudding Pie Award" for MVPs. The award was an actual pie. In 2009, NFL Network gave Brandon Marshall a pumpkin pie rather than the chocolate pudding pie of the previous two years.

NBC, which carried Thanksgiving afternoon games through 1997, did not issue an MVP award during that time. NBC began broadcasting the Thanksgiving prime time game in 2012, at which point the MVP award was added. The award is currently called the Sunday Night Football on Thanksgiving Night Player of the Game, and is typically awarded to multiple players on the winning team. [38] From 2012 to 2015, the NBC award was referred to as the "Madden Thanksgiving Player-of-the-Game", honoring John Madden (who announced NBC games from 2006 to 2008). [39] [40] In the first few years, the award specifically went to players on both offense and defense, but in recent years, there have been no quotas for each phase and thus the awards can be given to any position (in 2019, for example, the award went to an offensive player, a defensive player, and a special teamer). The winning players are presented with ceremonial game balls and, as a gesture to Madden, a cooked turkey leg. [41]

Complete list Edit

CBS Turkey Leg Award
Year MVP (Team)
1989 Reggie White (Phi)
1990 Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith (Dal)
1991 Barry Sanders (Det)
1992 Emmitt Smith and Cowboys Offensive line
1993 Richard Dent (Chi)
CBS All-Iron Award
1998 Stephen Boyd (Det)
1999 Dexter Coakley (Dal)
2000 Charlie Batch (Det)
2001 Mike Anderson (Den)
2002 Troy Brown (NE)
2003 Jay Fiedler and Chris Chambers (Mia)
2004 Peyton Manning and Colts Offensive line
2005 Ron Dayne (Den)
2006 Joey Harrington (Mia)
2007 Tony Romo and Cowboys defense*
2008 Albert Haynesworth (Ten)
Chris Johnson (Ten)
Kevin Mawae (Ten)
LenDale White (Ten)
2009 Miles Austin (Dal)
Tony Romo (Dal)
Jason Witten (Dal)
2010 Tom Brady (NE)
2011 DeMarcus Ware (Dal)
2012 Andre Johnson (Hou)
Matt Schaub (Hou)
J.J. Watt (Hou)
2013 Tony Romo (Dal)
DeMarco Murray (Dal)
Lance Dunbar (Dal)
HM: Matthew McGloin (Oak)
2014 Calvin Johnson (Det)
2015 Luke Kuechly (Car)
Jerricho Cotchery (Car)
Kurt Coleman (Car)
Cam Newton (Car)
2016 Matt Prater (Det)
Darius Slay (Det)
Matthew Stafford (Det)
2017 None (see below)
2018 None (see below)
CBS Turkey Leg Award
2019 Josh Allen (Buf)
2020 Deshaun Watson (Hou)*
  • Of the members of the 2007 Cowboys defense, Chris Canty, DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman and Greg Ellis were particularly noted.
  • No official CBS award was handed in 2017–2018. However, in 2017, Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen (both of the Chargers) were interviewed after the game during post-game coverage, while in 2018, Chase Daniel (of the Bears) was interviewed.
  • No game was held in prime time in 2020 due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The award was sent to Watson's home instead of being awarded after the game.

DuMont was the first network to televise Thanksgiving games in 1953 CBS took over in 1956, and in 1965, the first color television broadcast of an NFL game was the Thanksgiving match between the Lions and the Baltimore Colts.

Starting in 2012, all three broadcast networks with NFL rights will carry one game apiece. The first two games are split between CBS and Fox. These games are rotated annually, with CBS getting the 12:30 p.m. (EST) "early" game, and Fox getting the 4:30 p.m. "late" game in even-numbered years, while Fox likewise gets the "early" game and CBS the "late" game in odd-numbered years. The third game, with a prime time 8:20 p.m. start, is carried by NBC. [42]

In 2014, two developments would eventually allow for the networks to carry teams from either of the two conferences, something that was not allowed prior to this point. First, a system known as "cross-flex" was imposed, in which the two networks bound by conference restrictions, CBS and Fox, could carry Sunday afternoon games that would otherwise air on the other network. [43] [44] That same year, in order to accommodate CBS's new contract to simulcast Thursday Night Football, the network was given permission to air games with teams from either conference on Thursdays in a deal separate from its Sunday afternoon rights. [45] From that year through 2016, CBS carried all-NFC contests every year on Thanksgiving, and in 2014 and 2015, no AFC teams played in any of the Thanksgiving games. It was initially unclear what mechanism was involved that allowed CBS to carry the NFC vs. NFC matchups two separate articles on the NFL's official Web site gave conflicting possibilities, with one by Kevin Patra speculating that it was covered under the cross-flex rule [29] and another by Gregg Rosenthal stating that, because the Thanksgiving matchup was on a Thursday, the cross-flex rule did not apply. [46] [ failed verification – see discussion]

CBS's Thursday Night Football rights expired after the 2017 season, after which Fox won the bidding. The league then scheduled all three games in 2018 to feature NFC vs. NFC opponents, with CBS given the Chicago Bears as the Lions' opponent for the early game while Fox carries the Washington at Dallas late afternoon game. NBC still held the rights to the Thanksgiving night game, Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints. [30] (The same year, the league expanded its flexible scheduling policies to include days other than Sundays.) [47] To date, the NFL has never assigned an AFC road game to Fox on Thanksgiving.

Westwood One most recently held national radio broadcast rights to all three games, with Compass Media Networks sharing rights to the Cowboys contest. (Under league rules, only radio stations that carry at least 12 Cowboys games in a season are allowed to carry the Compass broadcast.) The participating teams also air the games on their local flagship stations and regional radio networks.

The Cowboys Thanksgiving game has regularly been the most watched NFL regular season telecast each year, with the Lions Thanksgiving game usually in the top five. [ citation needed ]

Cooking To Feed The Navy

What does it take to cook dinner for 2,500 sailors on an aircraft carrier? We'll look at the history of cooking in the Navy over the past 200 years and dish out recipes for classic military meals.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. These Days recently did a live broadcast from the deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego Bay. And we found out that one of the most frequently asked questions from tourists on the aircraft carrier is how did the Navy manage to feed all the sailors on board, three times a day, 7-days a week for months? The task of keeping sailors fed has been a daunting one ever since the beginning of the U.S. Navy. It's taken incredible amounts of preparation, hard work and sometimes, strong stomachs. A new book charts the history of feeding the U.S. Navy. I’d like to welcome my guest, retired Chief Warrant Officer Rudy Shappee, a 20-year Navy veteran and author of “Beef Stew for 2500: Feeding our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present.” And, Rudy, welcome to These Days. Thanks for coming in.

RUDY SHAPPEE (Author): Thank you very much, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Now we want to invite our listeners to join the conversation. If you’ve eaten food prepared in Navy galleys, give us a call. Tell us your favorites or the food you hated. Tell us what it was like eating on board a Navy ship. Our number is 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. So, Rudy, what was the food like on board ship when you were in the Navy?

SHAPPEE: Well, I served from 1957 to 1976 and when I went in in ’57, it was pretty bad, uniformly poor preparation, not much caring about what we ate. We were pressed men, though. There was a two-year active duty obligation so we had to serve. As the Navy changed, as it went to a more volunteer organization, they had to start catering to the tastes of the young people so you saw a definite improvement. Also, I moved up in rank over those years so as I – when I became a Chief Petty Officer, I ate the finest food I’d ever eaten in the Navy. And then I became a Warrant Officer and then it dropped down a few notches, so it’s according to where you’re eating and when you’re eating.

CAVANAUGH: I see. Now, just so we know, tell – what ships did you serve on and when?

SHAPPEE: I served on the USS Bennington in 1960. I served on the USS Constellation through the sixties, and the USS Independence in the early seventies.

CAVANAUGH: And you found – Do you think that if you had stayed and conceivably at the same rank all the way through that, indeed, you would’ve found that the food had improved just in general during that time?

SHAPPEE: Yes, absolutely, because Captain Ney of the Supply Corps implemented incentives for better feeding in the fleet, and we saw a definite change occur then. And there’s been other changes we can talk about since I retired that have improved it also.

CAVANAUGH: Now did you – Why did you want to write a book about Navy food? What inspired you to write this book?

SHAPPEE: Yeah, it’s really funny. I was a docent on the Midway and now I’m the Exhibits Manager, but I would take people to the galley, the main enlisted galley, and I would say 13,000 meals a day, and you could see the shades come down in their eyes. It’s just totally incomprehensible that that much food, being edible, could be served at one time. So I set out to actually write a small pamphlet about just the Midway and how the Midway served its meals. It was only after I began doing research that I found out no one had done a comprehensive study of feeding the Navy from the Revolutionary War to the present. So being a historian, I grabbed that bone and started running.

CAVANAUGH: I want to let everyone know we are taking your calls about Navy food. You can tell us what you liked, what you didn’t like, what got better. 1-888-895-5727, if you’d like to share your stories with us. Now, Rudy, your book “Beef Stew for 2500” starts, as you say, with the rations set out for U.S. sailors in the late 1700s. Did those early sailors really get very much to eat onboard ship?

SHAPPEE: There were only 13 items in the ration list for a week, so the food was very bland and it was very consistent. You ate, you know, you’re like, Mondays you ate ship’s biscuit with salt beef, and you might have a few other little things to go along with that and you made a pudding, a boiled pudding, out of that. On Tuesday, it was dried peas and pork. And on Wednesday it was beef and biscuit again, and it just went the same, day after day after day after day. So it was very boring food.

CAVANAUGH: Now, you know, we – I think that collectively we have this notion that the food for early – the early Navy was awful, that it was sometimes almost inedible with, you know, weevils in it and all sorts of terrible things. Is that actually how it was?

CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay, we were right.

SHAPPEE: They called it – they called the salt beef and pork ‘salt horse.’ And it was kept in a pickling cask up near the front of the ship. And the ship’s biscuit, the longer you served at sea, the more the weevils hatched and they ate it, turned the biscuit into powder, into dust. And I can tell you that in 1960 when I went to sea on the USS Bennington, we went on a six-month cruise and as you proceeded through the cruise, we started getting little dark spots in the sugar cookies and those were weevils. And we would break the cookies up and bang them on the table and shake the weevils out and then eat them because I can remember that in my early days at sea, yes.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah, you wouldn’t forget that.

SHAPPEE: No. But they no longer have those.

CAVANAUGH: We’re taking your calls about Navy food at 1-888-895-5727. My guest is Retired Chief Warrant Officer Rudy Shappee. He is the author of “Beef Stew for 2500: Feeding our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present.” And let’s take a call right now. Cassandra is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Cassandra, and welcome to These Days. Cassandra, are you with us?

CASSANDRA (Caller, San Diego): Yes, sorry. I was calling, I was a sailor on board the USS Nimitz from ’05 until about present. And we actually got shipments when we were underway of meat that the boxes were stamped rejected by this federal prison or rejected by the state penitentiary. It was actually meat that the prisons had sent back for whatever reason. We didn’t know if it was quality or what the reason was but they would actually sent it back and it would be given to sailors overseas while they were underway. I was just calling…

CAVANAUGH: To let us know. Well, thank you, Cassandra. I appreciate the phone call. Would that happen with any regularity you think now, Rudy?

SHAPPEE: I can’t speak to that. I’ve been to sea on the Nimitz just lately and I found that during my stay aboard, the food quality ranged from very, very good to disappointingly bad according to, you know, who was on watch and who was doing the preparation. I was very angry when I got bad food on a modern aircraft carrier because I know that there’s, you know, 6,000 young people on there that need to eat that. But I also was fed very, very well during the next watch or the next meal. So it varies.

CAVANAUGH: And yet just looking at the photograph on the very front of your book, it’s hard to believe that they can prepare good food on board a Navy ship, an aircraft carrier, because you have Navy guys who are virtually stirring vats—vats—full of food with this huge stick, and to be able to create recipes that are big enough to serve thousands—literally thousands—it’s amazing.

SHAPPEE: And that’s only one entrée.

SHAPPEE: When I speak of beef stew, I’m talking of one entrée, I’m not talking about the noodles that go with it, I’m not talking about the salads, the breads, the desserts, and all that sort of thing. So it’s a phenom – actually, it takes two days to prepare a meal on a carrier. One day just to accumulate all the ingredients and get them up to the cooking area so that they can be – begin to be prepared by the night shift, and the galley works 24 hours a day.

SHAPPEE: They’re cooking all the time. And then finally get it into that central area where it’s – the final preparation is done and it’s served.

CAVANAUGH: Before we leave these very early years that you document in your book, how was the food actually prepared on board ship in the early Navy? How did they do that?

SHAPPEE: Well, they were all puddings or duffs as the sailors called them. Ship’s biscuit was inedible. You could not eat it without dipping it in hot water or breaking it up. So they would take a marlin spike and they would draw a pound and a half of bread per day per sailor. And they would take that and pound it up with a marlin spike and turn it back into flour and then they would take the salt beef or salt pork that they were issued that day, which, by the way, had been taken out of the pickling cask, put in a net and drug behind the ship for 24 hours to desalinate it and the sharks wouldn’t eat it. Now the fish wouldn’t eat it. And then they would pull it back aboard and then they would give it to the sailors. And they would chop that up, add some other ingredients to it, and put it into a sock that they had made out of sailcloth that they stitched together, and they would put it in this sock and then they would take it to the cook who would suspend it in boiling water for about two hours. Then they would come back and get that and then roll it out of the sock onto a piece of sailcloth. They ate on the deck. They just – all they had, a square piece of sailcloth, they just rolled this thing out and cut it up into 8 or 10 portions, each 8 or 10 men had a mess together, and each person cooked on a different day of the week.

SHAPPEE: And they just sliced that up, and the senior person of the mess got first choice of the first piece, and then it went down according to rank. And the cook for the day got to clean up the mess. And that was very interesting.

CAVANAUGH: We’re talking about Navy food, that’s early Navy food…

CAVANAUGH: …up to the present day, and taking your calls, 1-888-895-5727. Let’s hear from Donald, who’s calling us from North Park. Good morning, Donald. Welcome to These Days.

DONALD (Caller, North Park): Hi, Janine. Hello, Warrant. How’s it going?

SHAPPEE: Pretty good, Donald, thank you.

DONALD: Yeah, I retired about 7 years ago and I got to say, you know, probably Navy food is one of those experiences that if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. But anyway, yeah, sometimes you don’t want to know about the process but I really had a lot of respect for the logistics involved. You know, I had – I was on ship from like a cruiser, a light cruiser, actually, to even the Constellation but, you know, sure there were affects from some of the recipes but I wanted to know if you had a chapter about like foreign foods? Like for example, some of my favorite experiences was when we were able to make port calls and we brought on like exotic fruits like it was the first time I ever had a kiwi was while I was in the Navy.

DONALD: And then, you know, ever since, I love guava, papaya and like fruits like that. To me, the fresher the better.

CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you. Thank you for the call, Donald. That’s an interesting point, the picking up what you get from foreign ports of call.

SHAPPEE: Yes, ever since the very beginning of the Navy they’ve had replenishment at sea. Stephen Decatur, fighting the Barbary pirates, was resupplied from France, so they got food from there. I agree with you. I always appreciated when we got – went into the South Pacific and passed by Australia. We got lamb and we got lobster. And near Hawaii, we always got fresh pineapple. So, yes, as you move around through the different parts of the world, you do get those exotic fruits and vegetables and meats.

CAVANAUGH: Now, I want to mention to people, I want to make sure that they know that one of the most intriguing parts of your book is the fact that there are recipes inside and I want to talk more about those recipes and how you compiled them but, first, some of the early ones include things called burgoo and sea pie. What are these things?

SHAPPEE: Well, a burgoo is a stew, and sea pie is officers only. The stoves on the ships had boiling pots for the enlisted people, for the crew, and ovens for the officers. So the officers could have baked food, so the sea pie is actually – they started out with ship’s biscuit and crushed it up and made a crust of – pastry out of it and then lined a container and then made a stuffing of meats and vegetables and herbs and spices and then covered it over so it’s a very nicely prepared pot.

CAVANAUGH: And, funnily enough, no fish.

SHAPPEE: Well, they do – they did use saltfish, they did have saltfish. And, by the way, the very first thing that Congress ordered for, as far as food is concerned, for the U.S. Navy is that every ship be equipped with an ample quantity of fishing equipment so they could get fresh fish. That fish was then to be fed to the sick first and then distributed evenly through the crew…

SHAPPEE: …so that was interesting. You had to have fishing gear.

CAVANAUGH: Now you’ve mentioned on several occasions the difference between what the sailors ate and what the officers ate. How did that menu differ through the years, and does it still differ?

SHAPPEE: Well, it started out it was quite a difference because the officers were paid income – just paid cash for their food needs in – for an upcoming crew. So it was not unusual for the officers to have live animals on the ship, to have pigs, and the goats traveled very well, much better than cattle but they would bring cattle in to butcher, chickens for fresh eggs. So the officers would have this little farm running on the back of the ship while the crew forward was eating salt horse and ship’s biscuit and dried peas and weevils. That has – The way they pay the crews has stayed the same. The officers have to pay for their meals at sea now in the modern Navy where the enlisted people, that money is taken out of their basic pay and set aside with them not having any control over it. And because of recent changes in the Navy, within I would say the last 10 years, we’re seeing that the officers are not eating anything different than what the enlisted are. We now have a 21-day cycle of menus and because we can’t remember what we ate 21 days ago, so you just say, oh, it’s ham again, you know. And – But the recipes are the same. And this has saved a lot of money for the Navy because at the end of World War II, they had a cookbook with 1700 recipes in it. Just think of the ingredients that you’d have to carry.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s – We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And Harry is on the line from San Diego. Good morning, Harry. Welcome to These Days.

HARRY (Caller, San Diego): How you doing today? Thanks for taking my call.

HARRY: I want to talk about the menus and I was Jack of the Dust on a ship and also a cook when I first entered. They used a card catalog. I don’t know if you mentioned that. You know, all the recipes are supposed to be the same. And back when I was in, ’72, you couldn’t veer from those recipes because it was like – unless it was like sheer death because they wanted to take – especially who was in charge of the kitchen. You have – can he comment on that?

CAVANAUGH: Sure. Yeah. Thank you, Harry.

SHAPPEE: Yeah, Harry, thank you. As a matter of fact, in the last chapter of the book, I use recipe cards to show that. And also when we did the exhibit of the main galley on the ship, we put a number of recipe cards out for folks to be able to see. And you’re absolutely right. That was – those were followed very strictly. And, Harry, you remind me Jack of the Dust is a great old term from the British Navy that’s very interesting. The Jack of the Dust was the enlisted person who assisted the purser—there wasn’t supply officers yet, there was a purser—in going down and getting the rations…

SHAPPEE: …for each day and going down into the hold. And they called him the Jack of the Dust because the British called all sailors Jack.

SHAPPEE: And he was Jack of the Dust because he had to go down in a hold and get those big bags of ship’s biscuits which had been eaten up by weevils and were all dusty and everything so he would come up all covered with this dust as he was carrying everything up. Today, Harry is still serving as Jack of the Dust, and Jack of the Dust now is the guy who has all the keys, so he’s given the recipe cards with all the lists of ingredients and Harry knows where everything is stored and he may have a crew of as many as 20 or 30 people who then go down and find all the ingredients and get them all together at the right place so the chefs and cooks can then put them together and actually produce product.

CAVANAUGH: No small task when we’re talking about the quantity.

SHAPPEE: Oh, well, on an aircraft carrier, like there’s – it takes 40 people to do that. Phenomenal amount of work.

CAVANAUGH: We have to take a short break but when we return, we will continue to talk about “Beef Stew for 2500: Feeding our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present.” And taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guest is retired Chief Warrant Officer Rudy Shappee. He’s author of “Beef Stew for 2500.” It’s a book about feeding the Navy from the Revolutionary War to the present. And we are inviting your calls. If you’ve eaten food in the Navy, you can tell us your favorites or the food you hated. Tell us what it was like eating on board a Navy ship. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. Right now, I’d like to introduce our guest, Lieutenant Steve Lewis. He’s calling us. He’s Services Officer in Charge of Culinary Operations aboard the USS Carl Vinson. And welcome, Lt. Lewis. Thanks for calling.

LT. STEVE LEWIS (USN Services Officer, Culinary Operations, USS Carl Vinson): Thank you. Happy to be here.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I’m wondering, we – I guess you’ve heard a little bit about the history of Navy food and so forth. What is Navy food like now? What are the changes that have taken place in order to serve modern palates?

LT. LEWIS: Yeah, I think some of the recent changes that have been, at least in the last 10 years, there’s been a big push towards healthy choice options, you know, largely with items that tasted good, that reminded you of home, and that were maybe not so healthy for you, and these days people would like those things to be that comfort food but also be healthy while they’re eating those, enjoying those foods.

CAVANAUGH: You know, a lot of people just going out to eat with friends and neighbors will find out that now a lot of people have health concerns, they – they’re lactose intolerant or they can’t eat certain types of food. How much of a choice do sailors have when it comes to what they’re going to be fed?

LT. LEWIS: I think these days they have a wide variety that are just proposed to them basically. I mean, on the main line, what we talk – basically, there’s two options as far as like two meats usually. Like a meat or a fish and a variety of other items as far as side dishes, and then there’s always these different types of salad bars or there’s different types of bars they offer. So say for today we’ll have a chili bar, a salad bar and a chicken bar, which will be largely with chicken wings and chicken breasts and things like that. And then we’ll also have a sandwich bar so if somebody wanted to make themselves a deli sandwich, kind of a self-serve type item. So that gives people a lot of different variety and then it’s kind of like what Rudy was talking about with that 21-day cycle menu. Since that does – since that actually can get repetitive when you’re out to sea, having those different bars can kind of switch things up for you.

CAVANAUGH: I’m wondering, you said that the Navy used to concentrate on sort of like food that would remind sailors of home, and what changes now that it’s a healthier menu? Are there more salads? Are there more lighter foods? Are you looking at calorie content and things like that?

LT. LEWIS: Yeah, we are definitely looking at calorie content. Our – the 21-day cycle menu is approved by the Navy Supply Chef and also the Navy Supply Dietician to make sure that, you know, when – if somebody chooses the right portion, which we kind of advertise what the right portion is—that’s always an individual choice—but they can see that and – what a portion size would be and then they can also see right there at the serving line how many calories that they’re choosing to select.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, that’s interesting. What if you’re a vegetarian? Can you survive on board ship?

LT. LEWIS: You know, you sure can. Actually, our chaplain is a vegetarian and there’s a lot of items that he’ll choose to get the – you know, there’s always different options at both lunch and dinner for vegetarians.

CAVANAUGH: Well, I want to thank you so much for bringing us up to date on this. Lt. Steve Lewis, thanks so much.

CAVANAUGH: And my guest who remains with us is Rudy Shappee. He’s the author of “Beef Stew for 2500.” So healthier and better for you, huh?

SHAPPEE: On the Midway, we have a sample menu of what was served back in the – even in the nineties and it’s filled with macaroni and cheese and fried chicken and meat loaf and heavy, heavy foods that we served those 19-year-old kids. And then when I went out to the Reagan and the Nimitz and dined there, the difference between on the Midway, a salad bar was a tray of head lettuce…

SHAPPEE: …and salad dressing. Now, a salad bar is a selection of maybe two different types of lettuces with tomatoes and onions and all kinds of condiments that you can put on and off. A taco bar next to that. And so there’s, as the lieutenant said, there’s a lot of options. If you don’t like the entrees that are on the main line – I had one sailor told me, I never eat the fish but I always have a good meal because of all the other options that they have available. So I was very pleased with that when I saw that, whereas in the older Navy it was heavy food. Our cooks would say I have to feed a man so he doesn’t have to eat for 12 hours.

SHAPPEE: So that was the big thing, is to load him up with carbs.

CAVANAUGH: Do you want some butter on that butter?

SHAPPEE: Absolutely. Absolutely. With gravy.

CAVANAUGH: Jack is calling us from Pacific Beach. Good morning, Jack. Welcome to These Days.

JACK (Caller, Pacific Beach): Hello. I was interested – I was listening to it. I was in the Navy from 1958 to 1962 and I was on a World War II Fletcher-class destroyer. And I just have to say bluntly that the food was terrible.

JACK: It was horrible. And one of the things that your guest isn’t speaking about is the different of the food between a large ship like an aircraft carrier and the smaller ships like the escort destroyers and the destroyers. And also he’s not speaking about how we eat during rough weather and how difficult that is. And I just have to say maybe that today’s Navy’s a lot better but in my day it just was horrible so…

JACK: …thank you and I’ll listen to you offline.

CAVANAUGH: Hey, Jack, thanks for calling in. So let’s talk a little bit about those subjects. The smaller ships, how was food aboard the smaller ships? And during rough weather?

SHAPPEE: Yeah, Jack, I cover that in the chapter covering the second world war, that there was definitely an argument among the admirals about who should receive the best food. Of course, the hospitals received the very best in the Pacific war especially. But then we’ve all known that the submarine people, they always get the best food because they have the most hazardous work, yada-yada-yada. But then the admirals in the second world war said wait a minute, air crews aboard aircraft carriers are just as much in harm way as submariners so they should have better food. So, in fact, the aircraft carriers, everyone, ate better than the destroyers did. And I give menus, a day’s menus, for aboard an aircraft carrier and compare that to a destroyer. And it was Spam city on a destroyer when it was well-prepared food on the aircraft carrier. So, yes, Jack, I agree that there is a difference and, of course, that absolutely has to do with how much storage facilities you have. A destroyer’s a small ship and she can’t carry as much fresh food as an aircraft carrier can. And another thing is, you know, I’ve heard people say I was on a destroyer and it was – it had great food, so also I think we have another factor in there, it’s about leadership and pride…

SHAPPEE: …on the ship, and so we – I can’t make general statements, say on every ship it was like this. But I agree with you, Jack, in 1957 when I came in the Navy, the food ashore was wonderful but as soon as I hit the deck of a ship, it got pretty bad.

CAVANAUGH: And what about – what’s the difference in eating in bad weather? Because they couldn’t prepare?

SHAPPEE: Well, they couldn’t cook.

SHAPPEE: I mean, you have those big tubs of hot food sloshing about.

CAVANAUGH: Sloshing about, right.

SHAPPEE: So you ate baloney sandwiches.

SHAPPEE: And you were fortunate if you got mayonnaise on them sometimes. And I can even remember in the early days, my early days, they would feed us C-rations that our first caller was mentioning food that was rejected by some – we had C-rations that had been packed in 1945 aboard a carrier in 1960 and they were feeding those to us because they couldn’t heat in the galley.

CAVANAUGH: Wow. Yeah, that’s where you need the strong stomach.

CAVANAUGH: Greg is calling us from East Lake. Good morning, Greg. Welcome to These Days.

GREG (Caller, East Lake): Good morning. I just want to give my comment. I’ve been in the Navy for 15 years now and I don’t – can’t compare it to what they’re talking back in the sixties and seventies and eighties, but I can say that I think that the food is great. It’s the best meal in town. I get per diem each day to eat out in town and blow my money, you know, but I’ve noticed that most people don’t want to go to the galley because they’re used to that fast food, fattening type of food. You know, I find great selections. I’ve been to the ASW galley, the 32nd Street, North Island, Point Loma. I used to be on the USS McKee. I used to eat at the Jason, so the salad bar was a great selection for people. You know, you had the boiled eggs if want to raise the protein, a lot of tuna, all kinds of selections of cuts and veggies. So I thought it was great. And I’m also the Command Fitness Leader so I think that people are just drawn to that fattening, good tasting food and that’s why they reject a lot of the Navy food.

CAVANAUGH: …thank you so much. So we got a plus for this new healthier idea of eating on Navy ships. We also had a caller who couldn’t stay on the line who talked about his memories of snacks, midnight snacks. What would that be about?

SHAPPEE: Well, on an aircraft carrier, we serve four meals a day.

SHAPPEE: Three main meals a day and, by the way, our galleys are open, so you can get hot food 23 hours a day…

SHAPPEE: …because we go around the clock. Some of the smaller ships, they open and close the galley and use that area for other purposes, recreation and so on, but on a carrier, it’s food, food, food, all day long. And your – you have breakfast, dinner and supper, and then from about eleven ‘clock until about three in the morning, you have mid-rats. And mid-rats, or midnight rations, are the leftovers from all the three meals that you’ve had during the day, plus eggs to order, breakfast meat, usually a carbohydrate, so it’s almost like on a cruise ship. Sometimes the most interesting meal is the one they’re serving at midnight when everybody’s supposed to be asleep. So I know there were times when I would – we’d be having ham, which was one of my favorite things, and I’d say, well, I’m going to mid-rats tonight so I can get some more ham. So mid-rats was a pretty interesting place.

CAVANAUGH: That’s interesting. Now, as I said before, the recipes in this book are really, really well done. Lots of them are for huge amounts of food. I mean, you give recipes for actually feeding a whole ship’s crew. But some of them have been reduced down so that you could, you know, maybe feed 10, 12 people. How did you come up with these recipes?

SHAPPEE: Well, the Navy did that for me…

SHAPPEE: …because the early recipes were for 8 people because that’s how many men there were in a mess.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Right, right.

SHAPPEE: And through the Civil War, they kept it about 8 people. But then when we modernized the steel Navy at the turn of the 19th century, they started general messing, so they had to make the recipes for 100 people because they were serving 800 people. The Navy went backwards and they said, yes, but on a small ship you’re not serving 100 people, you’re serving 30 people. On a patrol craft, you may be serving 12 people. So they did the mathematics. And I include that in the chapter where I start using the recipe cards. I say this is how to reduce it. This is the math. Very simple division and plus adding a little, 10%, or taking away 5% because not everyone eats every meal, and they don’t want to have leftovers. They don’t want to throw – they’re not in business to feed the fish.

SHAPPEE: So they want the last sailor to get the last ration.

CAVANAUGH: That’s interesting. Now you worked with students of San Diego High School Culinary Arts. What did they help you with when it came to these recipes? Did they actually make them?

SHAPPEE: Yes, the – especially the early recipes. Are these things even edible? And so Linda Ross, God bless her, was the Culinary Arts teacher there and she volunteered to have her students do selections from each chapter and prepare them the way they were written and then make recommendations on – and comments on how they tasted, and then recommendations on how to improve them. It was a great opportunity for the kids to experiment and also follow directions and do these mass feedings. And so we had taste tests and that’s right in the recipes, that they recommend this is really bland, you need to add something here and add something there.

CAVANAUGH: That’s wonderful. You know, some of the modern recipes that you include, Honey-glazed Cornish Hens, rum chocolate ice cream, I mean, they look amazing.

SHAPPEE: Well, Navy doesn’t have cooks anymore. As Lt. Lewis mentioned, they’re Culinary Arts Specialists. Do you know that Navy chefs feed the president. And…

CAVANAUGH: That’s right. I’d forgotten that.

SHAPPEE: …so now instead of having cooks who had no future except to continue to cook, we now have Culinary Arts Specialists who are trained in the culinary arts by professional chefs. I’ve been working with people in Washington who, as part of the Ney Award, this annual competition that they have…

SHAPPEE: …for the best feeders in the fleet, the winners of those, professional chefs come aboard ship and teach fine dine – fine food preparation and dessert preparation. The chefs, the Culinary Arts Specialists, from that ship go to the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, and receive special training and move upward and have careers in the – and all this sort of thing. So it’s not the old one-legged guy…

CAVANAUGH: With his parrot.

SHAPPEE: in who’s cooking, you know, with the parrot on his shoulder. It’s now young people who have when they – at the entry level, they have whole careers ahead of them of excellence, as far as they want to go. So it’s – And that’s helped. That’s really helped.

CAVANAUGH: That’s fascinating. My final question to you, and we don’t have much time left, but what was your favorite meal when you were in the Navy?

SHAPPEE: Breakfast, chipped beef on toast…

SHAPPEE: …with two over-easy eggs on top of it. Set me free. And we still serve chipped beef on toast at the galley aboard the USS Midway for the old timers to come back and get it.

CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you so much, Rudy. This has been fun.

CAVANAUGH: Rudy Shappee’s new book is called “Beef Stew for 2500: Feeding our Navy from the Revolutionary War to the Present.” If you’d like to comment, go online, You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.


San Diego news when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

Recipes | 1940s Thanksgiving

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A Thanksgiving feast prepared by Courier-Journal food editor Cissy Gregg. (Photo: H. Harold Davis, The Courier-Journal ) Buy Photo

Although her words echoed wartime and the angst of missing soldiers overseas, Courier-Journal Home Consultant Cissy Gregg's 1945 Thanksgiving advice applies to anyone longing for loved ones.

". In spite of anxiety, in spite of the knowledge that families are mostly incomplete, we still mark the day on our calendar and try to give fully, in any way possible, to continue the tradition of setting aside one day of the year in which we consciously give thanks for our many blessings," Gregg wrote in her Thanksgiving menu article entitled "For These And All Thy Blessings."

Sugar was still on the ration list, but apples were plentiful in the last years of World War II. Food editor Marguerite T. Finnegan of The Louisville Times called for sweetening apple pie with honey, molasses or corn syrup in 1944. Her shopping list included seasonal vegetables, noting that sweet potatoes, greens and cabbage were "all in good supply and reasonably priced."

Sugar shortages aside, spreads of that time in Louisville call for classics that are sure to appear on many tables next week. Gregg's turkey is flanked by varieties of cranberry sauce, stuffing and pecan pie. Finnegan's column entitled "For The Modern Woman" reminded readers that since 1621, the Thanksgiving table has included cranberries, which "young Indians had taught the Pilgrim children to gather."

Favorites of the time were a molded "Corn Ring with Broccoli and Peas," which called for a cup of "top milk or cream." Top milk is the denser stuff that has risen to the top of non-homogenized milk. A good local source today is JD Country milk sold in glass bottles at ValuMarket, Whole Foods and elsewhere.

In lieu of mashed potatotes, Gregg called for labor-intensive "Souffle Potatoes," with double-fried slices just 1 /8-inch thick. She gave scant information on quantities of either potatoes or cooking oil.

Most shopping lists this week involve selecting the bird, a process that once included coaching on feather removal. If you do find a stray pinfeather in your bird, the Louisville Times advised using "tweezers or catching them between thumb and paring knife." You can also singe pinfeathers away. That's right. They burned them off, sometimes by holding the bird above the stove's gas flame. It smells like burning hair.

Homemakers 60 years ago were advised that hen turkeys are best for smaller gatherings requiring a bird of 15 pounds or less, while Tom turkeys serve bigger crowds better, "at their best between 16 and 25 pounds."

Measure your crowd's appetite against the size of your bird. A 15-pound turkey yields about 20 pieces of dark meat and 24 slices of white meat, not counting the wings, Finnegan wrote.

"Marks of quality are clean waxy skin with few pinfeathers and no bruises or discolorations," she counseled, adding shoppers should look for a "generally plump appearance streaks of fat under the skin on breast, legs, thighs and back . Frozen turkeys should be frozen hard and show no discoloration."

Rinse the bird, empty its cavity of giblets and rub its insides with salt ( 1 /8 teaspoon for each pound of fowl). Place stuffing inside the bird, but not tightly, and grease its skin with melted or softened cooking fat.

Place turkey on a rack in a shallow pan, she said, adding that it requires no water and no basting. Finnegan moistened a clean white cheesecloth with melted or softened cooking fat, but doesn't say what kind. I might rub a stick of softened butter into some cheesecloth if I tried this method. Drape it over the bird. While it's cooking, the bird is basted by pans juices.

Finnegan advised home cooks to weigh the bird after it is stuffed to gauge accurate roasting time. Roast the turkey at 22 to 25 minutes per pound in a 300-degree oven. If you roast the bird uncovered, baste it with pan juices or hot water in which butter or shortening is melted. The turkey is ready when leg joints break or move readily when shaken, or when a thermometer inserted deep into the thigh reaches 190 degrees.

Gregg paid strict attention to the gravy.

Good cooks "make wonderful gravy just swishing it around in the roasting pan," she said. "It can be done that way, but that method is not advised for the inexperienced. . Good gravy is not a slapstick business.

"No turkey wants to be without its gravy," Gregg warned readers. "But sometimes the turkey is ashamed of its gravy."

Jere Downs can be reached at (502) 582-4669, Jere Downs on Facebook and @Jeredowns on Twitter.

Happy Thanksgiving - Recipes from Madame Wu

Sylvia Wu is the author of many popular cookbooks including Madame Wu&rsquos Art of Chinese Cooking and Cooking with Madame Wu: Yin and Yang Recipes for Longevity.

Many Talking Points readers already have their turkey, ham, or tofu creation planned for Thanksgiving. Some, however, may be looking for something a bit different. So we contacted Sylvia Wu, the legendary force behind Madame Wu’s Garden, for four decades one of Los Angeles's most famous eateries.

Madame Wu was born in Jiujiang on the Yangzi River. She came to the U.S. to attend Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1944. There she married King Yan Wu, an MIT graduate from Hong Kong and grandson of Wu Tingfang, China's first ambassador to the United States. Madame Wu’s Cantonese cuisine attracted a large following, including entertainment celebrities and political giants. Madame Wu ran her Santa Monica restaurant until 1998. By then she’d published popular cookbooks (Madame Wu’s Art of Chinese Cooking and Cooking with Madame Wu: Yin and Yang Recipes for Longevity), a memoir (Memories of Madame Wu) and a remembrance of Song Qingling, the widow of Sun Yatsen (Memories of Madame Sun). She's had a busy semi-retirement, producing Madame Wu’s Garden: A Pictorial History. She's at work on a second memoir.

Madame Wu immediately suggested sharing one of her best known fusion efforts, a Chinese chicken salad dish inspired by a conversation with her longtime customer and friend Cary Grant. She also selected another of her signature dishes, Wu’s Beef. One of her children, federal judge George Wu, suggested a dish to utilize leftover turkey – stir fry turkey on spinach.

The first two recipes are from Madame Wu’s Art of Chinese Cooking.

USS Liscome Bay: Hit By a Torpedo Near Makin Atoll During World War II

She began life as a nameless Hull in the Kaiser shipyards in Vancouver, Washington, on December 12, 1942. And she ended her short, 11-month span in 23 terrifying minutes off Makin Atoll in the Pacific, after being struck by a single torpedo from a Japanese submarine.

She was the first of her flock to go, but before war’s end in 1945, the ill-fated CVE-56 would be joined by five more American-built escort carriers (CVEs) sunk by enemy action. They were: Block Island (CVE-21), sunk by the German submarine U-549 in the Atlantic on May 29, 1944 Gambier Bay (CVE-73), sunk in the Battle of Samar by Japanese cruiser gunfire on October 25, 1944 St. Lo (CVE-63), sunk by a Japanese kamikaze plane attack on October 25, 1944 Ommaney Bay (CVE-79), scuttled after being struck by a kamikaze on January 4, 1945 and Bismarck Sea (CVE-95), sunk by a kamikaze off Iwo Jima on February 21, 1945.

The loss of these ships, tragic and costly in lives as they were, did not compare to the shock that went through America’s CVE crews when that first escort carrier was sunk in November 1943. Relatively speaking, it should also be noted, no other single carrier in World War II, escort, light or fast, suffered higher casualties — 600 men killed out of a crew of 900, 70 percent of the crew gone in only 20-plus minutes.

CVE-56 had a name, of course — the USS Liscome Bay.

She began her life as Maritime Commission Hull No. 1137. And when work began on her in earnest as an auxiliary aircraft tender, her designation was changed to Kaiser Shipyards Hull No. 302.

The name she would be given upon her completion, and when she was turned over to the British Royal Navy, would be HMS Ameer (ACV-56).

By April 19, 1943, Ameer‘s Hull and part of her flight deck were finished. She was launched in a special ceremony at the Kaiser shipyards by her sponsor, Mrs. Clara Morrell. Mrs. Morrell was the wife of Rear Adm. Ben Morrell, founder of the U.S. Navy ‘Seabees.’ Also attending the ceremony was Mrs. Walter Krebs, matron of honor Lt. Cmdr. H.C. Zitzewitz, liason officer at the Vancouver yards and James MacDonald, the British consul in Portland, Ore., who spoke at the ceremony.

After an invocation by Dr. Perry C. Hoffer of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Mrs. Morrell stepped up to the platform built near the bow of the partially finished Hull and smashed the traditional bottle of champagne against the bow section, sending Ameer sliding down the ways into the Columbia River.

On the same day, tugs took the powerless Hull and towed it downstream 100 miles from Vancouver to the Astoria (Oregon) Naval Station for final fitting out and delivery.

By that time, 3 1/2 months later, in August 1943, the Ameer would have new owners and even a new name.

On June 28, 1943, the vice chief of U.S. Naval Operations, Admiral J.H. Newton, endorsed a recommendation that 29 auxiliary aircraft carriers built for the British navy be assigned to the United States. He further recommended changing their British names and redesignating their class as CVE (aircraft carrier, escort) instead of ACV (auxiliary aircraft carrier).

And so HMS Ameer, formerly Hull No. 302, become USS Liscome Bay, named after a small bay on the south coast of Dall Island, which lies off the southern coast of Alaska. This followed the practice of naming escort carriers after bays, islands and sounds of the United States, or after major U.S. operations, battles and engagements.

On July 15, 1943, Liscome Bay‘s redesignation from ACV-56 to CVE-56 was completed. The fitting out continued in Astoria. On August 7, 1943, Liscome Bay was delivered to the U.S. Navy. Her log records the event: �. Pursuant to orders…. Vessel commissioned U.S.S. Liscome Bay….Capt. I.D. Wiltse assumed command.’

Like all escort carriers, Liscome Bay was built mostly from a converted merchant-ship Hull. Her primary functions were to serve as a convoy escort, to provide aircraft for close air support during amphibious landing operations, and to ferry aircraft to naval bases and fleet carriers at sea.

Accordingly, she was built no larger than her original Hull, given no more armament than was considered necessary for self-defense, and allowed no more speed than she needed to perform the tasks assigned her.

She was 512 feet long, with a beam of 108 feet. She displaced 7,800 tons. Her flight deck was only 400 feet long and 80 feet wide. Two elevators had been installed, one forward, one aft, and a single catapult was located forward on the port side, over the bow.

Her armament consisted of a single l5-inch, .38-caliber open gun mounted in a gun tub overhanging her square stern. Sixteen 40mm cannons in two mounts and twenty 20mm machine guns, scattered below the flight deck on both port and starboard sides, were her chief anti-aircraft armament.

Liscome Bay‘s ‘black gang’ worked with her two Skinner Uniflow reciprocating steam engines in twin, split-plan engine rooms, using superheated steam running at 4,500 ihp (indicated horsepower) and 161 rpm to turn the ship’s twin propellers and produce her top speed of 16 knots.

Liscome Bay carried a crew of 960 men. Most were recent graduates from boot camp. Others, like the aerology crew, had served on board the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) before she was sunk in the South Pacific by a Japanese submarine in September 1942. Others had served on the ill-fated heavy cruiser Quincy (CA-39), sunk in the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942. A few had been on the legendary carrier Enterprise (CV-6), and several of her crewmen had witnessed the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Veteran or recruit, old salt or recent landlubber, all had to consider that the most important member of the crew was their skipper, Captain Irving Day Wiltse, 56, Liscome Bay‘s first and last commanding officer. He had served as a navigator on the U.S. carrier Yorktown (CV-5) during the Battle of Midway and had commanded a seaplane tender, the Albemarle, before assuming command of Liscome Bay on the day of her commissioning. Wiltse was respected by his crew.

A month after the commissioning, after all the initial trials and shakedown cruises around Astoria, Liscome Bay got underway under her own power for the first time.

Arriving at Puget Sound on September 8, Liscome Bay proceeded to Bremerton Naval Station for degaussing and adjusting of her compasses and radio equipment. She spent four days undergoing further ship’s trials before sailing for Seattle, Wash. There, her 20mm AA guns were test-fired. She docked until September 17, 1943, and then sailed for San Francisco. Liscome Bay docked at the Alameda Naval Air Station for refueling and to take on more personnel. The next stop would be San Diego, for an extensive series of shakedown drills and exercises off the southern California coast.

On October 11, while the escort carrier was docked in San Diego for refueling, she received an addition to her complement in the form of Rear Adm. Henry Maston Mullinnix, who would be commanding a carrier division, with Liscome Bay as his flagship.

Called by a former classmate ‘one of our outstanding young admirals,’ Henry Mullinnix had graduated first in his Navel Academy class of 1916, had served in World War I on a destroyer, had helped design the Navy’s first diesel engine, had become a Navy pilot, and had commanded the carrier Saratoga (CV-3) before being appointed to the rank of admiral on August 28, 1943.

A sailor who served on his staff later said, ‘As a man, you couldn’t find a person any better… ‘

He was accompanied by his chief of staff, Captain John G. Crommelin. An outstanding pilot and officer, Crommelin had served aboard the Enterprise at the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1942, and was the oldest of five brothers, all Annapolis graduates, all naval officers who would serve in the war. ‘He was as fine a man as the admiral,’ one sailor said of Crommelin. ‘You could talk to him about any problem you had.’

Crommelin’s job as chief of staff was to ensure the efficient operation of the staff for Carrier Division 24, Mullinnix’s first flag command. At 1000 hours in October 11, Mullinnix, in the words of the log, ‘Hoisted his flag aboard Liscome Bay.’

More time was now spent in extensive drills and shakedown cruises. On October 14, the carrier received its aircraft, 12 FM-2 and F4F Wildcat fighters and 16 TBM-1C Avenger torpedo bombers as Composite Squadron No. 39. The commander of Composite Squadron 39 (known as VC-39 in Navy records), Lt. Cmdr. Marshall U. Beebe, became responsible for flight operations of the squadron and for the lives of its 36 officers and 41 enlisted men.

After further drills, along with landing and takeoff practice by VC-39’s planes, Liscome Bay set sail October 22 for Pearl Harbor — and the new ship’s first battle mission.

The carrier reached Pearl Harbor on October 28 and moored at the Ford Island Naval Air Station. There were additional drills and exercises in Hawaiian waters, including rehearsals for the upcoming Gilbert Islands invasion, until on November 10, Liscome Bay, accompanied by her sister ships Coral Sea (CVE-57) and Corregidor (CVE-58), sortied from Pearl Harbor with the ships of Rear Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner’s Northern Attack Force, Task Force 52. Included in the force were the battleships New Mexico, Mississippi, Idaho and Pennsylvania, four heavy cruisers and 14 screening destroyers, all escorting six transports carrying units of the 165th Regimental Combat Team of the 27th Infantry Division.

The Liscome Bay and her companion ships soon joined the most powerful U.S. naval force assembled in the Pacific up to that time-13 battleships, 8 heavy cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 4 Essex-class and 4 Independence-class aircraft carriers, 4 escort carriers, 70 destroyers and destroyer escorts. In all, 191 warships in four task forces, coming together from six different directions, all closing in on three tiny Japanese-held atolls in the Central Pacific: Tarawa, Makin and Abemama in the Gilbert Islands.

The pending operation was code-named Galvanic. Its objective was the capture of all three atolls as a steppingstone for future landings in the nearby Marshall Islands. The planners wanted to establish airfields and naval bases in the Gilberts, and to give U.S. forces valuable experience in amphibious operations.

The Southern Attack Force, or Task Force 53, under the command of Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill, was assigned the capture of Tarawa Atoll in the central Gilberts. The northern Attack Force, Task Force 52, under Admiral Turner, was given the objective of capturing Makin Atoll in the northern Gilberts. Marine raiders, operating from the submarine Nautilus, would take Abemama in a separate operation while the main forces were assaulting Tarawa and Makin.

It was with these objectives laid out that Task Force 52 had sortied from Pearl Harbor on the morning of November 10, 1943.

Between November 11 and 19, Liscome Bay, along with the other carriers of CarDiv24, conducted flight operations and anti-aircraft gunnery practice and provided aircraft for anti-submarine patrols around the task force as it steamed for its distant objective.

Even these routine aircraft operations were not without cost. On November 15, Liscome Bay suffered her first operational casualty when Ensign F.C. Fairman’s FM-1 Wildcat crashed at sea three minutes after launching. Ensign Fairman was killed in the crash.

By ‘Dog Day,’ November 20, Task Force 52 had arrived off Makin Atoll and commenced its pre-landing bombardment of the landing beaches. There was no reply from the outnumbered Japanese defenders on Makin’s main island, Butaritari, but an accidental explosion in the main gun turret of the battleship Mississippi killed 43 men and wounded 19 others.

The landing forces went ashore and, overcoming fierce Japanese resistance, secured the island on November 23 after nearly 76 hours of fighting.

Throughout this time, Liscome Bay‘s aircraft played their assigned part by providing direct support of the landings and subsequent ground operations, and flying combat air patrols and anti-submarine patrols around the task force. But again, not without cost. One Avenger was lost in a crash at sea, another in an emergency landing near Makin Island and a Wildcat was so seriously damaged in a barrier crash that it was dismantled for spare parts.

Then on November 23, five Wildcats took off from Liscome Bay on a late-afternoon patrol. After takeoff the patrol was vectored out to intercept radar ‘bogies’ northwest of Makin. The patrol, led by Lieutenant Foster J. Blair, proceeded a distance of 40 miles from the ship, then lost contact with her.

When the patrol returned to the spot where Liscome Bay should have been, they could not find her. Bad weather and growing darkness, along with the lack of real navigational equipment carried by the planes (hardly more than a compass and a plot board), compounded their problem.

They radioed for help and were directed to land on the big carriers of Rear Adm. C.A. ‘Baldy’ Pownall’s Task Group 50.1, 60 miles south of Makin and the escort carriers. Two of the Wildcats successfully made night landings on the Yorktown, but the third had trouble. This plane bounced off the carrier’s flight deck and into the planes parked on Yorktown‘s bow.

The Wildcat’s pilot bolted clear of his plane without injury, but its belly tank exploded, killing five deck crewmen and setting fire to the parked aircraft. Only quick thinking and heroism by Yorktown‘s crew saved the carrier from further damage. The two remaining Liscome Bay Wildcats landed safely on the nearby USS Lexington.

As the five VC-39 pilots in the errant flight hit the sack that night, they had no idea how lucky they were.

Near Makin, a tragedy was in the making.

At sundown on November 23, the ships of the now precisely named Task Group 52.13 had maneuvered into night cruising disposition, forming a circular screen around the three escort carriers.

Liscome Bay was in the middle, as guide for the surrounding ships. In the first circle surrounding Liscome Bay were battleships New Mexico and Mississippi, the cruiser Baltimore on the left flank, and Coral Sea and Corregidor on the right flank. The outer circle was formed by the destroyers Hoel, Franks, Hughes, Maury and Hull.

The task group, commanded by Rear Adm. Robert M. Griffin on the New Mexico, steamed at 15 knots, without zigzagging, throughout the night 20 miles southwest of Makin.

At 0400, the destroyer Hull left the task group and proceeded to Makin. Hull had been operating off Liscome Bay‘s starboard rear quarter, so her departure did not alter the task group’s disposition.

At 0435, the Franks, also operating off Liscome Bay‘s starboard side, reported a dim light on the surface in the distance and was directed to investigate.

A minute later, New Mexico‘s surface search radar picked up a radar contact six miles from the formation-‘apparently closing,’ in the words of the official report. A few moments later the contact faded from the radar screen without any identification being made.

On Liscome Bay, preparations were being made to launch the day’s first aircraft. For the carrier’s crew and the men of VC-39, the past three days had been hectic, and they expected the 24th to be the same.

Today was also the eve of Thanksgiving. Down in the galleys, the cooks broke out the frozen turkeys that had been packed aboard at Pearl Harbor. There was a lot of work ahead if the traditional meal was to be done up right.

At 0450 flight quarters were sounded. The deck crew began manhandling 13 planes into position on the flight deck in preparation for a dawn launch, while seven planes rested on the hangar deck, armed but not fueled, ready for later launch. Stowed in the carrier’s magazine were more than 200,000 pounds of bombs, including nine 2,000-pound, semi-armor-piercing bombs, 78 1,000-pound bombs, 96 500-pound bombs and a large number of torpedo warheads.

At 0505 Liscome Bay‘s crew was called to general quarters. Dawn was only 30 minutes away as pilots and aircrewmen climbed into their planes.

Five minutes later, Rear Adm. Griffin ordered the task group to turn northeast. Liscome Bay, as guide of the formation, started her turn, followed by the other ships. The formation was a bit ragged because of the absence of the two destroyers, so Admiral Griffin ordered the remaining destroyers to close up the gap left by the Franks‘ departure.

Not far away, hidden by the blackness of night, lay the Japanese submarine I-175, under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Sumano Tabata. Having approached Task Group 52.13 on the surface to avoid detection, Tabata found that his submarine was perfectly positioned to attack through the hole left in the outer circle by the double departure of Hull and Franks. With the American ships now turning toward him, no zigzagging, at 15 knots, Tabata had a setup that submariners dream of.

He made the most of it. Taking a firing bearing on the ships with I-175‘s sound gear, he gave the fateful order-a spread of torpedoes streaked from I-175‘s four bow tubes toward the unsuspecting task group. That done, he took the submarine deep to escape the depth-charging sure to follow.

None of the destroyers in TG 52.13 detected I-175 on sonar, nor did anyone see a torpedo wake on the surface until it was too late.

At 0513, an officer stationed at one of Liscome Bay‘s 40mm guns on the starboard side screamed, ‘Here comes a torpedo!’ into his telephone.

A moment later, it struck the carrier with a shattering roar, throwing up a column of bright orange flame, flecked with white-hot pieces of metal. Seconds later a larger explosion followed, as the torpedo warheads and bombs stowed below the ship’s waterline detonated.

The consecutive explosions hurled large fragments of the ship and the airplanes that had been parked on its flight deck 200 feet into the air. A huge mass of wreckage, thrown into the sea, drifted away from the carrier, burning fiercely. The intensity of the blast stunned lookouts on the surrounding vessels. Debris from the stricken carrier rained down on them. New Mexico, 1,500 yards away, was showered with oil particles, burning deck fragments 3 feet long, molten metal droplets, bits of clothing and human flesh.

The destroyer Maury, 5,000 yards astern, was also splattered. The flames from Liscome Bay were so intense they lighted up the sea around the task group and were seen from the battleship Pennsylvania near Makin, 16 miles away.

Liscome Bay had been hit in the worst possible spot-the bomb stowage area, which had no protection from a torpedo hit or fragment damage. The bombs stowed there had detonated en masse. The resulting explosion disintegrated half of the ship. No one aft of the forward bulkhead of the after engine room survived. In an instant, the interior of the aft portion of the carrier blazed with blast-furnace intensity.

Few survived on the flight deck. The blast caught most, flying shrapnel cut down the others.

Flaming material was flung the length of the hangar deck and into the forward elevator well. The hangar deck became a roaring wall of flame.

The blast sent the ship’s bullhorn and radar antenna crashing down on the bridge, killing two men. Lieutenant Gardner Smith, a radio announcer before the war, went to the open bridge looking for Captain Wiltse and found it a shambles. Two sailors were pinned alive beneath the bullhorn Smith had to try several times before he could free them.

Tremendous waves of heat engulfed the carrier’s island, making the bridge rails too hot to touch. From the nearby Corregidor, Liscome Bay‘s bridge seemed to ‘glow a cherry red.’ The heat abated for a moment, and the men threw knotted lines over the bridge railing on the island’s inboard side and scrambled down to the flight deck.

Marshall U. Beebe, commander of VC-39, had been in the head when the torpedo hit. ‘There was a terrific rumbling throughout the ship, and an explosion that lifted me off the deck. The next thing I knew I was trying to get out the door in the darkness, but I could find no passage….’

Beebe somehow made it to the flight deck and found it ablaze, with oil burning on the water near the bow, and nearby ammunition beginning to explode.

Captain Wiltse ordered all hands to go as far aft as possible, then go over the side. On his way aft he met Beebe, and they proceeded aft along the remains of a catwalk. ‘The fire was spreading rapidly,’ Beebe recalled, ‘making it apparent that we weren’t going to get very far. I called to the captain to go over at this point, but he did not answer….’ Wiltse instead disappeared into the mass of flame and smoke, never to be seen again.

Beebe lowered himself into the water by a line running from the catwalk, holding an uninflated life raft he had found. Unable to maintain his grip on the line due to an injury to his left arm, Beebe fell heavily into the water and surfaced next to the raft, where two of his pilots joined him. They pushed the raft 200 yards from the carrier before inflating it.

All over the ship, crewmen realized that it was hopeless to try fighting the raging fires without water pressure in the fire mains, and they began to abandon ship. One sailor, trapped below decks, groped his way to a ladder so overcrowded he could not go up. He then climbed a superheated steam pipe, burning both his hands.

Another climbed 40 feet up electrical wires to a gun plot before jumping overboard. A pilot, Frank Sistrunk, of VC-39, recovering from an appendectomy done only six days earlier, and no swimmer, jumped overboard and managed to make it to a life raft several hundred yards away with the help of his friends and a small piece of floating debris.

Other VC-39 pilots, scheduled for a later flight, had been asleep when the torpedo hit. The explosion trapped some in their bunks temporarily and threw some out of theirs. Like most survivors, they had to crawl through the jumble of wreckage scattered throughout the ship before going over the side. Fifteen VC-39 pilots were later picked up by destroyers. Fourteen others had died in their planes when the aft flight deck disappeared in the fireball caused by the torpedo.

The fate of Admiral Henry Mullinnix is unknown. He was in air plot when the torpedo struck and was apparently injured by the blast. Several men remembered seeing him seated at a desk, head cradled on his folded arms others recalled seeing him swimming away from the ship after it went down. In any event, he did not survive.

John Crommelin, Admiral Mullinnix’s chief of staff, was stepping out of the shower when Liscome Bay exploded. ‘The violent shaking knocked me off my bare feet,’ he recalled, ‘and I hit the deck. The lights went out but flames lighted the ship’s interior instantly….’

Naked, Crommelin fought his way through burning compartments of the flight deck. ‘I felt like a fool-caught stark naked when even a boot [recruit] knows one should be protected against fire. My fingers looked like boiled wieners popped open.’ He received burns on the right side of his face, legs and arms. Despite this, he took charge of the men in his area and directed the evacuation at that point before jumping overboard himself.

‘I jumped off the flight deck with less than I was born with,’ he later said, ‘on account of the fact I left part of my hide behind.’ Crommelin swam for nearly an hour, supported only by a cork float, before being rescued, still stark naked. In Liscome Bay‘s final moments, the ship’s senior medical officer, Lt. Cmdr. John B. Rowe, displayed what survivors called’splendid’ conduct in his concern for the safety of his patients and in administering to the wounded aboard a rescue ship, despite a leg injury of his own.

Rowe rushed into the operating room to prepare his patients for evacuation. The flight deck was ablaze, and Dr. Rowe made a number of trips back and forth through the sick bay, forming his group for evacuation and picking up first aid gear. Rowe’s group grew to 15 men, including the ships’ damage control officer, Lt. Cmdr. Welles W. ‘Buzz’ Carroll, who refused Rowe’s offer to dress his wounds, and Liscome Bay‘s chaplain, Lt. j.g. Robert H. Carley.

Chaplain Carley, like Beebe, had been in the head when the blast came. Carley picked himself up from the jumble of smashed sinks, toilets and urinals, and staggered out into the passageway. There he joined up with Dr. Rowe and his group.

Carroll and his men attempted to fight the fires they saw flickering through holes in the overhead, but were unable to get any water pressure in the fire main. Giving that up, Carroll and his men groped their way through smoke-filled passages and joined Rowe and Carley’s party.

The group clambered over piles of debris and squeezed through passageways crushed inward like tin cans until they reached the forward elevator well, where a sailor named Hunt was trying to extinguish the blaze with portable CO2 bottles. Seeing that Hunt’s efforts were useless, Carroll told him to get out before he was trapped, but Hunt refused to leave and returned to his firefighting.

The group climbed to the flight deck. To them the scene was Dante’s Inferno brought to life. The fire was roaring so loudly that men had to shout to be heard. Constant explosions of ammunition added to the tumult.

Three men huddled around a 20mm gun made no reply when Carley told them to abandon ship-they were dead. Three other sailors standing numbly nearby ‘woke up’ when they heard Carley’s order and slid down a rope into the water, followed by Carley.

Carroll, although weakening due to blood loss from his injuries, paced up and down the flight deck giving orders and helping men to abandon ship.

Carroll refused to leave the ship until Seaman Hunt (who had come up from below after giving up his firefighting efforts) told him that he would not leave without him. Medical officer Rowe, Carroll and Hunt all went over the side together. Once they were in the water, Hunt swam off to find a raft for the injured Carroll, while Rowe held his head out of the water. Hunt returned with a raft a short time later and asked how the commander was. Rowe looked down at the man he was holding. ‘He’s dead,’ he said and let Carroll’s body slip beneath the water.

Twenty-three minutes after the torpedo hit, Liscome Bay sank stern first, still burning furiously. ‘Looking like a gigantic Fourth of July display,’ said one survivor.

‘I watched her go,’ said aerographer Lyle D. Blakely, ‘and heard her death gurgle. There was no suction, only a loud hissing.’

Liscome Bay went down gracefully,’ said Commander Beebe. ‘Settling by the stern, going down fast, and sliding backwards. Her final farewell was an audible hiss as the white hot metal cooled. The ships’ bow was enveloped by a cloud of steam obliterating our view.’

Liscome Bay was gone, taking with her Admiral Mullinnix, Captain Wiltse, 51 other officers and 591 enlisted men. Only 55 officers and 217 enlisted men, many badly injured with shattered limbs, frightful burns, and severe concussions from the enormous blast, had survived.

They were rescued from the oil-thick water-many clinging to life rafts, bits of wreckage, or floating in kapok life jackets — primarily by the destroyers Morris and Hughes. The destroyers picked up the last few by 0730. Morris and Hughes then transferred them to the transports Neville and Leonard Wood, anchored in Makin lagoon.

Neville and Leonard Wood set out for Pearl Harbor with the Liscome Bay‘s survivors on November 25, arriving December 2, 1943, after an eight-day voyage.

The same day, the Navy Department issued an epitaph of sorts for CE-56: ‘The USS LISSCOME BAY (an escort carrier) was sunk as a result of being torpedoed by a submarine on November 24, 1943, in the Gilbert Islands area. This is the only ship lost in the Gilbert Islands operation.

‘The next of kin of casualties aboard the Liscome Bay will be notified as soon as possible.’

This article was written by William B. Allmon and originally appeared in the July 1992 issue of World War II. For more great articles subscribe to World War II magazine today!

Navy Tales: Life and Food Aboard an Aircraft Carrier, Part 1

Sorry it has been a while since the last blog, but hopefully I am back on a regular schedule now!

This will be a series of posts on the same subject. FOOD.

First, a little background information. During my time in the Navy, I was on two different newer aircraft carriers (USS Saratoga, and USS Independence). When all the aircraft squadrons were aboard, as they were on a cruise, there were about 5,000 men aboard, and we were gone for five or six months. In order to appreciate the size of these ships, I'm posting a picture from above with a bunch of people on the flight deck. see all the little white dots? Yes, those are sailors in white uniforms!

There were usually four meals a day (remenber, the ship operated 24 hours a day all the time.) They were called breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midrats. Now I'm sure the first three are no surprise, but the last one really stood for midnight rations, but many people thought the last half of the word referred to the small furry rodents that inhabited some civilian ships that were not kept clean. I never saw any sign of them.

Breakfast was usually served from about 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. They had the usual assortment of things, with a variety from day to day. Some days, they even had donuts, or sweet rolls, but apparently, someone (the cooks?) beat us to those so we rarely got them. Too bad, because we could smell them for hours before the mess hall opened!

To eat, you usually stood in a long line that wound through the ship, and up, and down ladders (navy word for stairs, but they were very steep.). First, you came to a large board with the meal menu on it. This always sounded great, and made you hungry. Then you got your metal compartmented tray, and silverware (carefully planned so if there was anything tough, like steak, they were out of knives, and if there was good soup, there were no spoons) and you reached the serving line.

One of the frequent items on the breakfast menu was "eggs to order". So you might think, "Oh boy. I can get them however I like." WRONG! You got fried eggs, or sunny side up if they were in a hurry. It was interesting to watch the cook break four eggs at a time (two in each hand) and fill the entire grill in a few minutes. He then flipped them over, and served them. When you were in front of something you wanted, you stuck your tray out toward the server, and he put some on it. At the end of the serving line, you went out to the area with tables, and got a seat.


Preheat oven to 325°F. Place the ham on its side in roasting pan. Mix honey, brown sugar and spices in small bowl until well blended. If mixture is too thick, microwave on HIGH 30 seconds to 1 minute or until smooth, stirring after 30 seconds. Brush 1/2 of the honey mixture over ham, gently separating the slices so mixture can reach middle of ham. Cover loosely with foil.

Bake 1 hour, basting occasionally with pan drippings. Remove foil. Brush with remaining honey mixture. Bake 45 minutes longer. Serve ham with pan drippings.

Tips on How to Cook a Ham in the Oven:
•Fully cooked ready-to-eat ham, whether it's bone-in, boneless or even spiral cut, can be served cold or warmed.
•If you're wondering how long to bake a ham, we suggest about 10 to 12 minutes per pound in a 325°F oven. For a fully cooked (ready to eat) ham, heat until internal temperature reaches 145°F. For a fresh ham that must be cooked before serving, heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
•Place ham in a roasting pan and bake in the lower half of the oven, covered with foil to retain moisture. To keep ham juicy, you can add about 1 cup of water, stock, or even apple juice to the pan.
•Before heating, brush ham with your favorite glaze—use only half and save the rest for basting during last 30 to 45 minutes of baking.
•Not sure how much ham to buy to feed the family? Go with about 3/4 pound per person for a bone-in ham, or 1/2 pound per person for boneless.

Watch the video: Τα νέα μας μετά το ταξίδι και πως μας επιρρέασαν οι φωτιές. Iroukos Rocker (July 2022).


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