Personal tools
Log in



RCC Veterans’ Coordinator Serves Thanksgiving Dinner to US Troops in the Middle East

RCC Veterans’ Coordinator Serves Thanksgiving Dinner to US Troops in the Middle East

Marine Brigadier General Frank Donovan (second from left) and Jonathan Barnwell (third from left) serving food to the troops in Bahrain on Thanksgiving.

DATE: December 11, 2017

Jonathan Barnwell visits base in Bahrain

RAMAPO – When Jonathan Barnwell arranged to meet Brigadier General Frank Donovan in Bahrain, he didn’t imagine he’d be slinging stuffing and gravy to the troops on Thanksgiving in the Middle East. But the Coordinator of Veterans Affairs at Rockland Community College acknowledged it was the perfect way to spend the holiday.

Barnwell served a 90-minute shift in the mess hall at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, a U.S. Navy base on that island nation in the Persian Gulf. He worked the buffet line next to his friend, Brigadier General Frank Donovan, who dished out turkey to the sailors and Marines.

Donovan, the commanding officer of a combined Navy/Marines task force at the base, signed up Barnwell for KP duty upon learning his friend would be visiting for the holiday. “I didn’t expect that at all,” said Barnwell, “but it was exactly what I’d like to do.” Barnwell notes it is traditional for military officers to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the enlisted men and women.

Barnwell first met Donovan after reaching out to invite the Marine Corps commandant to visit RCC several years ago. The two men struck up a friendship, and Donovan came to Rockland County in 2014 for RCC’s SALUTE military honor society induction ceremony. Barnwell says he had been trying to arrange a visit to Bahrain since Donovan was posted there by the Marine Corps in 2016.

Besides visiting the base, Barnwell was able to tour Bahrain, which he describes as more Westernized and pro-U.S. than other Middle Eastern countries. He was struck by seeing a battery of Patriot missiles while driving around the island, a sign of the continuing tensions in that part of the world. “You just don’t see that here,” Barnwell noted.

Rockland Community College offers a wide range of services for veterans and was recently named a Military Friendly Gold Award winner for 2018. To learn more, visit