FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), are using their culinary skills to contribute to mission readiness at Fort Knox, Kentucky, during Operation Lethal Eagle II, a decentralized divisionwide training density.
Staff Sergeant Travis Russell, 3rd BCT, said Operation Lethal Eagle II is a good practice run for Soldiers new to the unit.
Russell, who is the manager of the Rakkasan Warrior Restaurant, said this gives his team an idea of what their job would look like during a real deployment, and with troops steadily moving in and out of Poland, that’s a real possibility for them.
“It’s been very helpful for us as a team and for the troops because when we see that they’re fed, we know they can continue their mission,” he said.
The Rakkasan Warrior Restaurant has a high standard to uphold, Russell said, both in and out of the field. With a reputation as being a top-notch dining facility there is pressure on his team to deliver quality food to troops in a timely manner.
While in the field the unit only serves two hot meals, breakfast and dinner.
“It’s a little more challenging out in the field because once we receive the food from our supply management office, we have to break down each meal for both breakfast and dinner, so it takes a little more time than usual, but the team has handled it really well,” he said.
While in the field, the schedule for 3rd BCT Soldiers working to feed their units starts well before sunrise, said Spc. Alex Ocasio, culinary specialist.
“We wake up around 4 a.m. and start the burners and start cooking meals. At 7 a.m. the line is set up,” he said. “We have about two hours to break down each meal and start over, it’s continuous.”
The extended hours haven’t affected their ability to deliver good food, Ocasio said.
“It’s a pretty smooth transition from the kitchen to the field,” he said.
For Russell the long hours are worth it when he sees how grateful Soldiers are to have fresh food.
“We just like to see everyone’s smiling faces when they get a hot meal in the field,” he said.
Corporal Cartadis Cheatam, culinary specialist, said aside from the benefit of gaining experience in the field, serving hot meals is important for morale and Soldiers’ overall health.
“It’s important for morale, energy and nutrition,” Cheatam said.
Russell said whether in the kitchen or out in the field, the Rakkasan Warrior Restaurant is at peak performance.
“We have the best DFAC on Fort Campbell and we take pride in that,” he said.