Food Inspection NCOIC
Food inspection NCO-in-charge Sgt. David Schuler and his two Soldiers, Spc. Carl Mays and Spc. Justin Shope, worked until midnight April 29 and again the night of April 30 at the Commissary.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--The three Soldiers who serve as Redstone's veterinary food inspection specialists were on their way back from annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga., when they got an urgent call to report to the Commissary.

After the April 27 severe weather created a massive power outage in North Alabama, the Commissary couldn't sell any frozen or chilled products because of the refrigeration failure. The display freezers were covered with a tarp.

The three Soldiers - Sgt. David Schuler, Spc. Carl Mays and Spc. Justin Shope - were returning to check on their families April 29, a day earlier than planned. But about midway into their seven-and-a-half-hour drive home, they got the urgent call from post veterinarian Dr. Stephen Krum. When Schuler arrived at the Commissary about 3 p.m., he let his two Soldiers go home to check on their families and received an update from Krum.

"Dr. Krum briefed me on the situation," Schuler, food inspection NCO-in-charge with Veterinary Services, said. "And then I called my Soldiers back in about 5 o'clock that evening and we got started.

"We had to go through all of the frozen and chilled items and determine if it was still usable, sellable, because the Commissary was out of power off and on for a period of about 19 hours."

The store closed at 6 p.m., but the Soldiers worked throughout the night. By the time they left, the store could sell "probably 80 percent of their frozen and chilled products," Schuler said.

"We left here Friday (April 29) at midnight," he said. "So Saturday morning when they opened they could've sold."

The Soldiers returned at 6 p.m. closing time that Saturday, April 30, and worked until about 11 that night. "We finished inspecting the rest of what we didn't get to on Friday and started our paperwork process," Schuler said.

By that Sunday, May 1, the Commissary was able to sell all of its frozen and chilled items - minus of course what had to be discarded because of spoilage. Schuler said probably 15 percent of the items, a little over $5,000 worth, had to be discarded.

"Since I've been in the Army this is the biggest refrigeration failure that I've been involved with," said Schuler, who has been in the Army almost four years and arrived at Redstone in 2009 from Korea.

"After I got briefed (by Dr. Krum) I had to take a step back and think about an order of precedence, priority, as far as where we needed to start to get the mission accomplished. And looking back, I think our Soldiers did an outstanding job in getting the mission accomplished. I instructed my Soldiers on what we needed to do and we worked as a team and got the mission accomplished."

Krum called the Soldiers that Friday after he received a call from Fox Army Health Center.

"It was a good job," Krum said of the Soldiers' actions, "especially coming off of TDY short notice. But they performed as was expected. That's what they trained for."

Store director Robin Daniel said the Commissary lost about $27,000 worth of its $1.3 million inventory as a result of the storm. That included all the backup items that couldn't be sold.

"When they (the three Soldiers) returned to Redstone I appreciated them working here right away and working all night to inspect the food," she said. "They inspected the food as quickly as possible so we could reopen the store, not only to sell dry (goods) but also frozen and chilled, to help the customers replenish their grocery stock after the power outage."

The store was closed April 28 and reopened April 29 at 10:30 a.m. for dry goods and produce. After the food inspections that night, the store opened 9 a.m. April 30 and sold frozen and chilled items.

"I couldn't have done it by myself," Schuler said referring to his two Soldiers' role in the food inspections. "There was no way. There was too much."

His Redstone section is under the Fort Benning, Ga., branch which is part of the Gulf Coast District, Veterinary Command. Besides the Commissary, where their office is located, the three Soldiers have 32 other facilities on post that they inspect monthly.

Schuler, 31, from Cullman, resides on post with his wife, Jennifer, and their four children: daughters Madeline, 12, and Macy, 2, and sons Benjamin, 9, and Brody, 7. Their power was out at home from the afternoon of April 27 until late night April 28.

Page last updated Thu May 19th, 2011 at 10:50