Gabrielle Giffords Serves Thanksgiving Day Turkey at Tucson Air Force Base

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords served a Thanksgiving meal on Thursday to US Air Force personnel in her first constituent event since she was shot in the head in January.

Captain Mark Kelly hugs his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after receiving the Legion of Merit from Vice President Joe Biden during Captain Kelly's retirement ceremony in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2011. Photo: David Lienemann/The Official White House Photo

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords helped serve a Thanksgiving meal to service members and retirees at a military base in her hometown.

The event at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was expected to draw more than 400 people, mostly U.S. Air Force personnel, retired service members and their families.

Giffords, shot as she met with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket, reportedly arrived at the Thanksgiving dinner wearing an apron reading “Gabby” and accompanied by her retired astronaut husband Mark Kelly.

She only used her left hand when she served the meals, a sign of the physical damage that she still sustains in the shooting that left six people dead.

In smooth, assembly-line fashion, Giffords picked up pieces of meat with metal tongs, put them on a plate, then handed it to her husband, who often added more from another tray and then passed the dish along.

 One airman could be heard asking how she was and Giffords replied, “I’m fine.” Later the couple went to the eating area hand-in-hand, chatting with diners, shaking hands and posing for pictures.

She did tell Airman 1st Class Millie Gray, of Kansas City, Mo., “Happy Thanksgiving, thank you for your service.”

“She’s such an inspiration and her story is so inspirational, it really made me proud. I felt very proud and very humble,” Gray said. “It just feels really good to see that she is out here supporting the troops, and just continuing to be an inspiration and a strong role model for Americans in general.

“She was very warm, asked how our meal was, which, of course, was amazing. The food is awesome,” Gray said. “She and her husband were very, just delightful and asked a lot of questions. It was just very warm-hearted, and I told her she was an inspiration and she was very thankful for that.”

According to a news release from Giffords’ office, base officials originally asked a member of Giffords’ staff to participate in the annual Thanksgiving dinner but when the congresswoman heard about it, she decided to go herself.

The congresswoman arrived in Tucson on Tuesday evening from Houston where she has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial Hermann for a private visit with her parents and other family members and friends.

“It’s always special to have a member of Congress come and spend time with the troops and show support,” said Brig. Gen Jon Norman, acting commander of the the 12th Air Forces, Southern. “But after everything that she’s been through, it’s a little bit more special.”

Ms Giffords is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Her husband is a former Navy captain and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut.

She spoke on camera this month for the first time since the shooting, in an interview with ABC News. In October she went to Washington to award Kelly with two medals for his 25 years of service with the Navy and NASA.

Kelly reportedly said recently that Giffords is “still improving” and she’d like to run for another term, according to CBS.

He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” his job is to “make sure she can get better so she can go back to her career.”

Kelly says Giffords is working on just stringing her sentences together and says viewers didn’t see that so much in a recent taped ABC interview. [via Huff Post, Global Post, The Telegraph and NY Post]

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