By Pfc. Sean McGuireMarch 5, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - More than a thousand Soldiers and Family members from the 4th Sustainment Brigade, 1st Medical Brigade, and 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) flocked to the Freeman Dining Facility Mar. 3 for an event dubbed "Community Strong," where Fort Hood troops and families enjoyed freshly grilled steaks and fixings for a special lunch break.
An organization known as Steak Team Mission made the special meal possible by donating 2,000 steaks to the Wrangler Brigade, who was in charge of feeding the 13th ESC.
The steak team also donated slabs of beef to both the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Theodore Roosevelt dining facilities - totaling 10,000 steaks overall.
The Steak Team Mission was created by Retired Lt. Gen. Harvey Gough in 2002. The team donates thousands of steaks to service members, both deployed and on the home front, each year.
Numerous volunteers, including Jess Alford Sr. from San Padre, Texas, served countless steaks throughout the two-hour event.
"This is small potatoes, what we're doing here today. It's a good cause because Soldiers do so much for us by fighting in our Nation's wars," said Alford, who brought his 18-year-old son with him. "I brought my son so he could see this and witness Soldiers first hand."
Despite the staggering number of Soldiers and families Alford served, one battalion of troops had to go to extra lengths to make the meal because the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion was in the field conducting training at the time.
Thanks to the leadership of the Wrangler Family, those Soldiers did get the chance to fill their bellies.
"They marched in two separate formations, hundreds at a time, all the way to the dining facility to get their steaks," said Lt. Col. John Hickey, commander of the 4th Brigade Troops Battalion, who had insisted that no Wrangler Soldier would miss out on the afternoon's blessing.
The turnout for the free steaks overwhelmed those who organized the event. Initial lines stretched more than 100 yards to the chow hall's parking lot within the first 30 minutes, so Team Wrangler quickly set up extra grills to help ease the hungry demand.
"I'm absolutely thrilled about the turnout," said Hickey as he munched on what he described as a, "very tender steak."
Besides the juicy beef, Soldiers and their families were also invited inside the chow hall to pile even more onto their plates including baked beans, coleslaw and ice cream.
The 1st Cavalry Division Band also added entertainment to the event. The band even took song requests from those eating inside the cafeteria, playing such hits as "Stairway to Heaven."
"It was truly great to see the Freeman Dining Facility full of Soldiers and families," Hickey said.
Sgt. 1st Class Carl Allen, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freeman Dining Facility, said that all 2,000 steaks were gobbled up by the end of the event.