GREAT FALLS, Mont. --
Twelve Montana Air National Guard Airmen and retirees arrived at the 120th Airlift Wing Dining Facility at 4 a.m. Christmas Eve to prepare 50 turkeys to be cooked for the 25th Annual Danny Berg Memorial Christmas Dinner.
The turkeys were the main course of a community dinner that MTANG Airmen and family members prepared and delivered to the Great Falls Senior Citizens Center to be served on Christmas day. The meal was expected to feed between 400 and 500 residents at the center.
The event began in December 1992 when retired MTANG Master Sgt. Danny Berg found a need to provide a meal for residents of the local area who may not have family members or friends to spend the holiday with.
Berg passed away after battling cancer in 2008, but the annual community event he founded continues on in his honor.
120th Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Steven Lynch sees the popular annual event as being part of Berg’s continuing legacy to the community he loved and an opportunity to bring MTANG members together to serve others. He said he’s participated in 10 of the annual dinners.
“I think it’s something that we take on with a great deal of pride,” Lynch said. “It’s something we can do and help give back to a community that supports us so well.”
Throughout Christmas Eve morning, 33 additional MTANG members and their family members rotated in and out of the dining facility to provide assistance cooking the turkeys and preparing the estimated 20 gallons of gravy and 20 large pans of stuffing. Several members stayed late after the dinner was cooked to help with kitchen cleanup.
120th Sustainment Services Flight Management and Program Assistant Master Sgt. Troy Anderson says the event gives MTANG members a chance to get to know guard personnel they might not regularly work closely with and develop new friendships.
“It really gives anyone who shows up a chance to meet other people from other sections,” Anderson said. “All of a sudden they’re across the counter from each other carving on a bird and it gives them a chance to get to know other people, so it builds camaraderie across the whole wing between sections.”
120th Sustainment Services Flight Manager Master Sgt. Bob Osier appreciates the work MTANG volunteers do each Christmas Eve to ensure Danny Berg’s dream of holding an annual community Christmas dinner continues.
“For those 45 volunteers to take time away from their family on Christmas Eve to do something like this, it’s really the epitome of service before self, which is one of our core values,” Osier said. “So, it’s awesome.”