Cooks work long hours to feed troops
August 8, 2008
FOB GARRY OWEN, Iraq - A small band of cooks start working before the crack of dawn and work until long after the sun sets. Their mission is to make sure all 1,000 Soldiers attached to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavarly Division, Long Knife Brigade receive three meals a day.
While the Company E, 27th Brigade Support Battalion's troops start their day early; the work really begins after serving the daily hot meal. The cooks first receive packaged food shipments; then, sort the various parts of the meals. They are also responsible for cleaning the cooking ware used to prepare the next day's meals.
"We got our first food shipment here on our second day...on the ground," explained Staff Sgt. Brandon Schmitt, one of the food service specialists leading the younger military cooks at the Forward Operating Base Garry Owen and a native of Cresco, Iowa. "We served our first meal the next day."
That marked the beginning of a hectic schedule for a small group of cooks from the Long Knife Brigade's 27th BSB to keep the troops on the frontline of Operation Iraqi Freedom nourished and well fed.
The cooks put in full days serving their fellow Soldiers, but still find time to fine-tune their job skills while preparing the meals.
"I like to see how I can make different cuisines and change their tastes with spices," explained Pvt. Susan Young, cook for the 27th BSB and Lexington, Miss., native.
"Since I'm new to the (field support company), I'm still learning how to cook the Army way. It's still a learning game to me, so it's fun," she said.
For other troops, they examine their trade as a routine.
"I rolled out, helped set up the containerized kitchen and started cooking," said Spc. John Hail, a cook from Denver. "In the field, it's a routine. But I'm also boosting morale out here."
The 2-7 Soldiers at FOB Garry Owen are operating near Amarah, the closest large city to the Iraq-Iran border in Multi-National Division - Center's area of operations, but arrived to the base without many basic facilities, including a dining facility.
While FOB Garry Owen continues to grow, it is sharing its resources, including hot meals, with the squadron's subordinate company-size elements stationed inside the city.