For U.S. citizens, Thanksgiving has long been a time of family, togetherness, taking a moment to reflect on all the things they are thankful for and of course, football. U.S. service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa brought that spirit to Djibouti when they invited host nation partners on base for the Turkey Bowl, Nov. 25, 2023.
Turkey Bowl started the night with a soccer tournament where teams from CJTF-HOA, the Djibouti Republican Guard, Djibouti Coast Guard and Djibouti National Police faced off in a series of matches. Col. Abdourahman Ali Kahin, Director of the Djibouti National Police, and Col. Wais Omar Bogoreh, Chief of the Djibouti Coast Guard, also attended the event.
“To our Djiboutian Armed Forces counterparts, thank you for your unwavering partnership and the hospitality you have shown us during our time here,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jami Shawley, CJTF-HOA commanding general. “As we engage in friendly competition on the field, let us remember that the true victory lies in the bonds we strengthen and the friendships we forge.”
After the Djibouti Republican Guard won the soccer tournament, CJTF-HOA also shared some traditional Thanksgiving pastimes with their Djiboutian partners by teaching them the basics of American football. Djiboutian teams participated in a series of drills to learn passing, catching, and punting skills.
To commemorate the event, Shawley closed out the Turkey Bowl by handing out custom soccer balls that were decorated with both the U.S. and Djiboutian flags.
“Thanksgiving’s origins are rooted in different cultures coming together to overcome adversity and share in each other’s strengths,” said Shawley. “In the spirit of that first Thanksgiving, I hope that with this event we can share a little piece of American culture with our Djiboutian friends and partners.”