By Cpt. William GeddesApril 25, 2013
FORT MEADE, Md. -- "They could have gone down to the local bakery and bought a cake!"
Those were the words of Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, Director for Army Reserve Human Capital Core Enterprise, as she tried the cake baked by Army Reserve cooks from the 200th Military Police Command at a 105th Birthday of the Army Reserve celebration.
"But having them come in and bake a cake in the facility they use when they serve their Soldiers on a battle assembly weekend when they make that lunch meal --I think that is just the pure linkage of our Army Reserve Soldiers today linking to the tradition that we are honoring today on our anniversary," she said.
It didn't come easy though. Rather than go the easy route of a boxed cake, the three-Soldier team chosen to bake the cake wanted to make it from scratch. Baking a cake from scratch is not a part of the normal duty day for an Army Reserve food service specialist.
"We just wanted to be sure it was a tasty cake," said Sgt. Toni Hurlston, a food service specialist for the 200th MPCOM, and the leader of the team. "We spent a lot of time searching the internet (for a good recipe). We looked at a lot of different flavors and decided on a vanilla cake, because it's a universal flavor -- everyone likes vanilla cake."
Choosing the flavor of the cake and finding the recipe was only half the battle. The team of dedicated Soldiers given the honor of baking the cake to commemorate the 105th Birthday of the Army Reserve had to make sure they got it right on the big day. That meant adapting the chosen recipe, which was meant to make a small cake, so they could bake a cake big enough to feed a drill hall full of hungry Soldiers. Not wanting to take a chance on using a new recipe the day of the event, the team of Soldiers came in the day before to make sure they got it right.
"It was trial and error, said Hurlston. "One cake didn't turn out right, so we tried another one. We decided on a three layer cake with butter cream icing."
Even with the trial, not everything went smooth the day of the event. When the food coloring didn't get the frosting just the right shade of blue needed to decorate the cake, a quick trip to the grocery store for a different type of coloring was needed to ensure everything was perfect.
"A little bit of stress involved, but it was fun," said Spc. Zachary McDavid, who along with Spc. Joseph Slade joined Hurlston on the team. It was an honor to bake the cake-- to as an Army Reservist bake the cake to celebrate the birthday of the Army Reserve. It went pretty good. The recipe we had was for a smaller cake, so we had to double the recipe to fit the whole sheet tray. We had to do that three times for a three layer cake."
Beyond the actual baking of the cake however, beyond just getting a tasty treat for the Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians at the celebration, was the way the mission exemplified the very nature of the Army Reserve.
"We talk about mission command and empowering the subordinate, this is that at the basic level," said Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman, commander of the 200th MPCOM. "This is the proving ground for our junior enlisted Soldiers who will be the next NCOs and leaders. This is how you get started. Taking on a mission, getting that experience under your belt, showing that commitment and dedication and getting after it."
And the dedication shown by the Soldiers, taking the initiative to come in a day early to make sure the 105th Birthday of the Army Reserve was perfect showed even more. "The fact that they came in the day before to do some trial cakes to make sure it was perfect for the Army Reserve Birthday," said Holman, "that's Twice the Citizen, Army Strong!"