Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for May 16, 2011 - Pfc. Victor Gonzalez

Private First Class Victor Gonzalez

Current Unit: 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment
Current Position: Food Service Specialist
Component: Active
Current Location: Afghanistan
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Years of Service: 1

More than 180 U.S. Soldiers and civilians are currently serving at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kushamond in Afghanistan. While these dedicated professionals may support different missions and spend personal time engaging in separate activities, they all come together for one thing – mealtime.

This is where Pfc. Victor Gonzalez shines. A food service specialist with the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, Gonzalez, and three other cooks, are responsible for preparing food for everyone at the FOB.

His responsibilities range from planning menus and stocking food items, to preparing and serving three meals a day. To accomplish all of this, Gonzales and his colleagues typically start by assessing supplies and food options and making key decisions that determine the meal plan and set the tasks for the day.

“The food planned for each day depends on a range of things, from what our current stock of food items consists of, to input and requests from Soldiers,” Gonzalez explained. “Also, we must take into consideration the ability to prepare food items within the time frame allowed.”

While it can be stressful feeding nearly 200 people three times a day, and continually creating satisfying and hearty food options, Gonzalez knows that his work is valued.

“Many deployed Soldiers miss home and food from home. It is an everyday struggle to get through the day, whether they have a tough mission coming up or they are returning from one. Food service is the heart of morale. A good tasting, hot meal can help Soldiers not only eat well but also feel a little piece of home,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez understands how his work contributes to the Army’s mission in Afghanistan and knows that his efforts contribute to the success of his fellow Soldiers. “My work makes me feel like I am able to make a difference in their daily lives, as well as do my part in the fight,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has learned a great deal throughout this tour. Not only has he improved his cooking skills and had the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world, he has gained deeper self awareness.

“This deployment has taught me that I am stronger than I ever knew. I am able to overcome the day-to-day stress, plus I have the determination needed to keep going,” Gonzalez said.

With that, Gonzalez looks forward to returning home and applying his newfound knowledge and skills throughout his Army career.

He is slated to return to the U.S. this summer, and plans to spend time with his family. In particular, Gonzalez looks forward to catching up with his brother, with whom he credits his decision to join the Army.

“I joined the Army because my brother was in the military. His continued success in the military made me desire the same success,” Gonzalez said. “A lot has changed for the better now that I am part of the Army. The Army has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and to accomplish some of my personal, financial and educational goals.”

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