FORT BRAGG, N.C. - In this year's Installation Management Command-level Philip A. Connelly Award competition, two Fort Bragg dining facilities claimed victory and are now competing at the Department of the Army level for the title of Army's Best Dining Facility.

From Fort Bragg, the Division Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division Dining Facility took the win in the large unit category while the Headquarters, Headquarters Company, United States Army Special Operations Command Dining Facility won in the small unit category.

"As far as I know, this is the first time a contractor has represented in both the small and large categories of the Philip A. Connelly awards," said James Ramey, food manager, Fort Bragg.

Both the DSTB, 82nd Abn. Div. and HHC, USASOC DFACs were presented with the IMCOM level Philip A. Connelly award for excellence in Army food service and are now competing in the DA level of the 42nd Annual Philip A. Connelly Awards against kitchens throughout the Army.

"It's a great opportunity for us and we're honored to represent Fort Bragg in the Philip A. Connelly awards," said Ramey. "We're going to continue to improve."

The DA level competition is scheduled to take place in October through December. The winner of the DA level competition will be flown to Reno, Nev. to be presented their awards for winning the competition.

"My people, my workers, we're all ecstatic about it. My customers, they're ecstatic about it, the chain of command for the headquarters division they're ecstatic about it," said Alonzo Powell, Army dining facility manager, DSTB, 82nd Abn. Div. DFAC.

Of the last five Philip A. Connelly Awards competitions, Fort Bragg dining facilities have bought back three wins and this year they hope to maintain this trend of excellence continuing to exceed the standard.

"We have some retired military here, we have a lot of experience when it comes to Phillip A. Connelly competitions, but the unique thing about this is that we're contractors now. We're bringing all sides together. We have an opportunity now to represent Fort Bragg," said Ramey.

Ramey said the DSTB, 82nd Abn. Div. DFAC uses the strengths of all its members to make up a very strong team of food service specialists capable of providing quality meals at all times to Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians and their Families.

Prior military members turned contractors who were trained as food service specialists and have become leaders in the full contract DFAC, alongside civilians with prior experience as restaurant employees.

Powell, a former senior noncommissioned officer, is a prime example of a prior service Soldier coming back and finding success working as a contractor.

"Not just the management, when we put together a winning team, we try to fall back on that with the workers as well," said Ramey.

The DSTB, 82nd Abn. Div., and HHC, USASOC DFACs have competed strongly and hope to bring the gold back to Fort Bragg in this year's Connelly awards competition.