• Spc. Amberlynn Walker, from Fort Carson, Colo., and a cook with the 308th Military Police Company, and Spc. Brett Smeltzer, from Granite City, Ill., 739th Engineer Company, St. Louis, prepare boneless beef short ribs for dinner at Operation River Assault 2012, Fort Chaffee, Ark. Operation River Assault is an annual training event executed by the 412th Theater Engineer Command headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss.

    Spc. Amberlynn Walker, from Fort Carson, Colo...

    Spc. Amberlynn Walker, from Fort Carson, Colo., and a cook with the 308th Military Police Company, and Spc. Brett Smeltzer, from Granite City, Ill., 739th Engineer Company, St. Louis, prepare boneless beef short ribs for dinner at Operation River...

  • Spc. Nyssa Johansen, a native of Brunswick, Maine, and a cook with 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, prepares salad for dinner at Operation River Assault 2012, Fort Chaffee, Ark.  Johansen is also a professional pastry chef on the civilian side. Operation River Assault is an annual training event executed by the 412th Theater Engineer Command headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss..

    Spc. Nyssa Johansen, a native of Brunswick...

    Spc. Nyssa Johansen, a native of Brunswick, Maine, and a cook with 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, prepares salad for dinner at Operation River Assault 2012, Fort Chaffee, Ark. Johansen is...

  • Spc. Catherine Katambo, a Boston native and cook with the 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, defrosts boneless beef short ribs for dinner at Operation River Assault 2012, Fort Chaffee, Ark. Operation River Assault is an annual training event executed by the 412th Theater Engineer Command headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss.

    Spc. Catherine Katambo, a Boston native and...

    Spc. Catherine Katambo, a Boston native and cook with the 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, defrosts boneless beef short ribs for dinner at Operation River Assault 2012, Fort Chaffee, Ark...

  • Pfc. Johnathan O'Neil, a cook with 854th Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, prepares eggs for breakfast at Operation of River Assault 2012 at Fort Chaffee, Ark. Operation River Assault is an annual training event executed by the 412th Theater Engineer Command headquartered in Vicksburg, Miss.

    Pfc. Johnathan O'Neil, a cook with 854th...

    Pfc. Johnathan O'Neil, a cook with 854th Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, prepares eggs for breakfast at Operation of River Assault 2012 at Fort Chaffee, Ark. Operation River Assault is an annual training...

FORT CHAFFEE, Ark.-- Dealing with change is sometimes like going through rough waters, but a good crew can weather any storm.

Such is the case of Army Reserve cooks assigned here to support this year's Operation River Assault from July 14-27. Operating in a 'one team, one fight' mentality, these unsung heroes are movitaved and have a great sense of adapatiblity to always get the job done.

Just a few days into the training, the cooks had to move from one building to another a few blocks away. Not only did they had to move, but they had to move quickly as more than 900 Soldiers depend on them for their meals.

"We know our mission is to feed Soldiers," said Sgt. Adrien Bouchee, a Chicago native with the 823rd Engineer Battalion in Darien, Illinois. "The first thing we did is we all got together and got to work," Bouchee said. " We worked non-stop and before we knew it, we were done!"

They were able to transfer to the new facility and start operating quickly. "The first day, Monday, was spent getting everything dress-right-dress," said Staff Sgt. Harvey Dillard, a facility shift and a member of 533rd Battalion Support Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command. "That means cleaning up, getting everything sanitized and getting the DFAC ready to prepare meals."

This group of cooks composed from many different units throughout the country, were ready for business the next day. "Tuesday was our first dinner meal," said Dillard. He attributed the fast turnaround to the "it has to be done" attitude that all the cooks share. "This was a, 'have to do mission.'" He said they succeeded because of that motivation and the fact that everyone did what they knew needed to be done.

Dillard attributes the mission success to the overall training of the cooks. "A lot of these soldiers have been in this atmosphere before," he said. "Their experience cultivates a lot in preparing for this type of mission." He said only a few have never worked in a DFac before and some have never worked as a cook.

The cooks seem to be happy with the new facility. "This is so much nicer," said Spc. Nyssa Johansen, a resident of Brunswick, Maine and a member of 368th Engineer Battalion, 302nd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command. "I feel bad the equipment failed, but this is a blessing."

Johnathan O'Neill, assigned to 854th Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, 412th Theater Engineer Command, says the new facility is much better than where they started, with more space and better equipment.

"A lot more spacious and less congested," described Spc. Andrew Cilla, a resident of Pine Bush, N.Y. and another member of 854th Engineer Battalion, which is headquarted in Saugerties. "It's a better facility to serve the Soldiers," said the N.Y. resident.

Bouchee expressed a similar point of view, "I was able to choose my (Extended Combat Training) this year, and I chose Arkansas. I'm glad I did."

"If I were to come here next year," said Dillard. "I hope I have the same crew."

Page last updated Thu July 26th, 2012 at 00:00