FORT DRUM, NY -- Soldiers from Fox Battery Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, participated in the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, which is a two-day, multi-level field cooking competition, at Fort Drum, May 6-7, 2021. The competition spans across the Army, with four competition categories encompassing Active Army Field, National Guard, Army Reserve, and Active Army Garrison and is the 54th annual competition.
Twelve Soldiers started cooking at 6 a.m. and continued until the mid-afternoon to prepare a robust menu for breakfast and lunch for their fellow Soldiers on day two of the field feeding exercise. Working as Army culinary specialists, these Soldiers worked to not only fulfill their mission, but also Army Regulation 30-22, paragraph 2-21, in the Army Food Program to the highest level of professionalism and sanitation.
“We are working really well together, the pace of it is going quick, and we know what to do,” said Pfc. Bryan Torres, a culinary specialist on the Connelly Team. “The food, we are always enhancing it and improving, we know this menu and have been cooking it so long, and the field site is perfect.”
The Philip A. Connelly competition was established on March 23, 1968 in honor of Philip A. Connelly, a decorated civilian and military food service management leader whose work and professionalism helped save Soldiers’ lives through nutrition. His dedicated work created more uniform standards between military and civilian culinary services, and encouraged a higher level of training, education, and accountability for all those working in the food service management industry. As a result, he was recognized as an authority figure in food services for all three branches of the United States Armed Forces and worked as president of the International Food Services Executives Association (IFSEA).
When asked about the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, Command Sgt. Maj. Dominic DiFatta, chief culinary management director of the XVIII Airborne Corps based in Fort Bragg, N.C., stressed that the highest standards Army culinary specialists aspire to also come from FM 7-22, Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F). According to DiFatta, these regulations are specifically designed to fill the nutrition education gap that Soldiers experience in the field.
“The Awards Program in conjunction with H2F is designed to maximize nutritional quality while providing a sufficient amount of nutritious food and fueling initiatives,” said DiFatta.
DiFatta won the 2005 competition on the Army Garrison level, and is also a presiding judge of the Army competition.
The Soldiers participating in the unit march in the field to the food site recognized the quality of work and effort that was put forth to provide quality meals for their customers in the field, as well as in the dining facility. Sgt. Danielle Kline, a culinary noncommissioned officer on the Connelly team, believes that her team did well in their field feeding exercise and says their goal is to continue to fulfill their mission and do the best that they can do, while constantly leaving room to grow.
“I’m very proud to be part of this team with these Soldiers who are out here doing their best and to the best of their knowledge,” said Kline. She went on to enthusiastically cheer on her Soldiers, exclaiming, “Let’s go!”
During a review process after the field competition concluded, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Terrence Tolbert, the senior food advisor for the XVIII Airborne Corps and another presiding competition judge, recognized the entire field team for their hard work and dedication throughout the two-day exercise. He also stressed the importance of feeding Soldiers in the field and specific goal-focused ideas such as remaining in line with normal operations, contingency plans, and rehearsing the meals.
Command Sgt. Maj. DiFatta also recognized the success of the field mission by awarding each individual team member with a Troop Fuel Award Medallion.
The Connelly field team consists of Sgt. 1st Class Rory Davis, Staff. Sgt. Xaviera Clayborne, Sgt. Danielle Kline, Spc. Ajani Malcolm, Spc. Christopher Martinez, Spc. Eric Brubaker, Spc. Alexander Combs, Spc. Cadence Patrick, Pfc. Jessebele Garcia, Pfc. Allaine Lacap, and Pfc. Bryan Torres, all from Fox Battery.
The full results of the competition will be announced by XVIII Airborne Corps in June 2021.