By Staff Sgt. Christopher Land, 319th MPADAugust 3, 2009
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - The sun rises over the installation, a few Army Reserve Soldiers are prepared to start Fort Leonard Wood's day on a full stomach. They are the food specialists, or cooks, who are here to feed the military truck drivers participating in Golden Cargo, the latest in a series of annual training operations sponsored by the Joint Munitions Command and executed by servicemembers in the Army Reserve, Marines and Navy.
"We're going to open up at three in the morning and feed those drivers before they hit the road," said Master Sgt. Audrey H. Chambers, Mess Sergeant, 352nd Combat Service Support Battalion (CSSB) dining facility here. The 352nd CSSB, headquartered in Macon, Ga., is at Fort Leonard Wood for three weeks in support of Golden Cargo. In addition to serving meals early in the morning, the dining facility will be open as late as 10 p.m. to feed truck drivers coming in on later convoys, Chambers added.
The master sergeant and her team of 16 food service specialists and volunteer kitchen police Soldiers, from several units within the 352nd CSSB, set up the dining facility in a building that has been mothballed since October. Chambers said there was a lot of cleaning to do to prepare the facility to serve 139 Army Reserve Soldiers here in support of Golden Cargo and nearly 60 truck drivers a day convoying from Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Crane, Ind., and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, McAlester, Okla.
Discipline is the key to setting up and operating the dining facility, whatever the hour, said Chambers. "You can't fall in on a facility this size, needing the kind of work this did, without a caliber of discipline in tune with the Army values," she said.
The gamut of work necessary to operate and support the mission includes everything from cleaning to final food preparation.
"We washed every pot, pan and utensil," Chambers said. The food specialists also cleaned floors, facility walls, and boiled water to clean every surface used for food preparation. During all the cleaning, 400 cases of Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, were loaded and unitized group rations were picked up to feed the hungry truckers and support personnel.
"We work hard because we're here to serve," said Chambers. "That's what the
3-5-2 does. Whatever it takes," she added, in keeping with the 352nd CSSB motto.
Doing "whatever it takes" to feed the Army Soldiers assigned to Golden Cargo or convoying to and from Fort Leonard Wood is a great training opportunity for her Soldiers, according to Chambers, and her Soldiers agree.
Spc. DeAnna Furlow, food-service specialist, 377th Quartermaster Company, Tifton, Ga., said that working in the dining facility prepares her for the next step in her military career.
"It's all a learning process," Furlow said. "I'm learning the procedures as far as paperwork is concerned and the proper steps for ordering supplies and getting food out in a timely manner."
Her co-worker, Spc. Roletta Hamilton-Goldsby, said she is "learning a lot of things" through her work in the dining facility. A transportation management coordinator from the 352nd, Hamilton-Goldsby said that her time volunteering for KP presents an opportunity to work in a team larger than the four-person team in which she typically works.
"I've learned a lot about teamwork," she said. "We came together well."
As the sun sets and rises each morning, the food service specialists like Hamilton-Goldsby and her dining facility teammates are there to ensure that the drivers are fed for their return trips back to Crane and McAlester each morning and before their trucks roll in each evening.