Pickens's thoughts Thursday were of home and his young son.
"I talked to my wife on the phone, and she pretty much told me he can teach me how to walk now," Pickens told CBS News Correspondent Mandy Clark.
The ambassador ate with the soldiers as commanders dished out the Thanksgiving feast.
There was even a Thanksgiving parade planned with a military mascot and a Butterball-decorated truck.
But for most, it was another day at work. Roughly 70,000 American troops are in Afghanistan now. Next Tuesday, President Obama will address the nation and is expected to make the case that between 30,000 and 40,000 more are needed to finish the job. The White House is also trying get NATO to send 10,000 additional troops but may only get half that number.
Even before the president made his official announcement, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar released a statement saying U.S. troops "face a route." The statement addressed to the "Rulers of the White House" said "defeat can't be averted by reinforcements."
More troops would be a welcome addition for the Afghanistan mission, but at least for Thursday, most soldiers' thoughts were not of war.
"This is my first Thanksgiving so far away from home, so my whole family will be together later tonight, so I will speak to everyone," Pvt. Frauenknecht told Clark.
Many soldiers did the same, using the Web to chat with loved ones.
With the war now into its ninth year, troops have spent plenty of holidays on the battlefield. And until the fight is finished, they face the prospect of many more.