Rumsfeld Works Mess Hall in Iraq for Holiday

From Associated Press

In a festively decked dining hall, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld helped serve Christmas Eve dinner to dozens of U.S. soldiers, and later said the Christmas season was a time to remember those who have been lost in combat.

The soldiers dined on rib-eye steak, lobster, crab legs, Cornish game hens and seasonal fixings. Grinning widely and wearing a white cook’s hat, Rumsfeld worked his tongs as many of the soldiers snapped pictures and politely asked for their helpings of the holiday meal.

“Steak’s the big seller tonight,” he declared after several dozen soldiers had gone through the line.

It was the second straight year that Rumsfeld served Christmas Eve dinner to troops in Iraq.


Later, as helicopters roared over the regional U.S. military headquarters that once was a palace of Saddam Hussein, he said, “We will win this war. It’s a test of wills, and let there be no doubt that is what it is.”

The Defense secretary was winding up a five-day trip that began in Pakistan and included stops in Afghanistan and Jordan.

Noting those who have lost their lives, Rumsfeld told troops: “You folks have helped liberate some 25 million people for whom hope was never there before.”