Marines play reindeer games at Norwegian feast
Soldiers of the Norwegian Home Guard share a meal of reindeer with Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force 25.  (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz)
1 photo: Soldiers of the Norwegian Home Guard share a meal of reindeer with Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force 25. (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz)
Photo 1 of 1: Soldiers of the Norwegian Home Guard share a meal of reindeer with Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force 25. (Photo by Cpl. Enrique Saenz) Download full-resolution version

NAMDALSEID, Norway - (Mar. 05, 2005) -- Every Christmas Santa straps eight tiny reindeer onto his sleigh and goes for the ultimate joyride passing out toys to the good little girls and boys throughout the world. The old boy might have one less this year, thanks to a group of Norwegian soldiers and six U.S. Marines.

Soldiers from the Norwegian Home Guard hosted a reindeer dinner as a gift to six Marines from Marine Air Ground Task Force 25.

The first taste of reindeer was a giant leap into Norwegian culture.

"I had no idea what to expect," said Pfc. Andrew D. McCoy, a radioman with MAGTF 25. "I'd worked with Norwegians before, but this was my first time doing anything Norwegians do."

Norwegian Home Guard soldiers, led by Home Guard Capt. Bjorn Deras invited the Marines to one of their homes for a feast featuring the Norwegian delicacy, and even though Marines are not known as having discriminating taste buds, the feast was resounding success.

"It was awesome," said McCoy, a Southwindsor, Mass., native. "I can honestly say it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. It tasted kind of like beef stroganoff."

The second course was a surprise for the Marines, who were presented a dish and only were only told what it was after they had eaten it.

"It turned out to be smoked reindeer's heart," said Cpl. Andy S. Puga, a Leominster, Mass. native. "It sounds kind of gross, but it tasted good. It was kind of like bacon."

The cultural exchange was only a small part of exercise Battle Griffin 2005, a Norwegian invitational exercise that tests the interoperability of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Partnership for Peace nations tactics and systems.

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