U.S. Army Soldiers eat well during Orient Shield 14

By 1st Lt. Amy Hanna and Spc. Frank Cagnina, New York Army National GuardOctober 27, 2014

U.S. Army Soldiers eat well during Orient Shield 14
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U.S. Army Soldiers eat well during Orient Shield 14
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan -- Pvt. 1st Class Rayvon O'Neal, a Food Service Specialist assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st. Infantry Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. and Pvt. 1st Class Brianna Broussard from Headquarters Company, 256th Infantry B... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

For roughly two-dozen U.S. Army food service specialists in Japan, they're doing just that, preparing over 45,000 meals and using over 7-tons of food supplies here.

The recipients of these meals are U.S. Army Soldiers participating in an annual bi-lateral field and staff training exercise, co-hosted by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Army Japan, Oct. 27 -- Nov. 7.

Orient Shield 14 brings together the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and JGSDF members from the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Armor Division, Northern Army for combined light infantry, squad-level and urban assault training.

For the food service specialists, their attention revolves around keeping the Soldiers well fed. For them, the alarm goes off at 'O-dark thirty' each morning and while other Soldiers are still asleep, these Army cooks focus on nourishing troops.

"We have morning and evening shifts, we get up at 3:30, do PT [physical training] and come to work at 5:15 to get breakfast started," said Pvt. 1st Class Rayvon O'Neal from 2nd Battalion., 1st. Infantry Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Once Soldiers are fed, O'Neal and his team's day moves on with getting ready to start all over again for the dinner meal. Day in and day out, over 20 food service specialists rotate in two shifts to ensure quality meals are provided.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Javier Torres, the officer in charge of the dining facility, by time the exercise is over, he expects they will serve over 45,000 meals both in the camp dining facility and out in the field.

"We started feeding Soldiers in early October when they arrived to prepare for the exercise and will continue on until the end," said Torres, a Food Service Technician with the 10th Regional Support Group, Okinawa, Japan.

Torres and his team will begin packaging and hauling meals out to the field for the field-training portion of the exercise on Oct. 24.

"It takes a lot more planning and coordination to ensure Soldiers receive hot meals in the field but our team is working hard but at the same time having a good time," Torres said.

This massive undertaking is a total Army effort, combining Soldiers from several different units and locations, to include the 10th RSG, Okinawa;the 2nd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. from JBLM, Wash., the 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment from Wheeler Field, Hi, the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Louisiana Army National Guard from Plaquemine, La. and local civilian personnel who help with general facility duties.

Before Soldiers can even sit down to a hot meal, there are months of planning that go into preparing for an exercise of this magnitude.

The fact that the exercise was in Japan meant that everything had to be planned and ordered at least 75 days in advance, which included the purchase and delivery of over 7 tons of food, to be shipped in four 40-foot freezers and another four 40-foot dry containers, Torres explained.

"In addition to the on-site supply, we receive bread, milk, fresh eggs, vegetables and fruits from local vendors every seven days," Torres said.

"I am very impressed with the hard work and ability to come together as one team, especially since they are from different units, they are doing a great job, Torres exclaimed.