By Ms. Brittany Bartholomew (AMC)February 28, 2011
MILAN, Tenn. - Duty. Honor. Service. Such are the words that spring to mind when people think of the Army.
Food. Fellowship. Fun. These are words the Milan Army Ammunition Plant community will hereafter associate with the Army.
On Feb. 23, MLAAP hosted the Milan Chamber of Commerce's monthly Network Connection. The Chamber established this event to bring local business leaders together allowing them to network and exchange ideas. The meetings customarily include refreshments, on which attendees munch while they mingle. Afterward, individuals are given the chance to speak to the group about the organizations they represent.
Lt. Col. Maria Eoff, commander for MLAAP, actively participates in these events, and when the opportunity arose, she volunteered to host the February meeting on her installation.
Eoff, wanting to make the MLAAP breakfast a memorable one for the business leaders, sought a way to add some variety to the routine.
"We want people to know about Milan," Eoff asserts, referring to the Tennessee plant. "When someone asks, 'Milan' Where's that'', we want them to say, 'I've been there! And here's why you should go there too...'"
Eoff also wanted to give attendees an authentic military experience, to show the group a bit about Army operations.
Eoff decided to partner with Fort Campbell's 101st Sustainment Brigade for this community relations operation. Knowing that the food service division is currently preparing for Connelly Competitions, governed by the Army Food Service Program, and needing the practice, Eoff contacted the 101st with the proposal for a military breakfast.
The day before the breakfast, the division arrived at MLAAP with their mobile kitchen trailer, an equipment essential for missions involving hungry Soldiers.
"The MKT is self-sustained, and can feed up to 250 personnel on its own," Sgt. 1st Class Ray Black explained to the Network Connection attendees.
"The MKT requires 30 minutes to set-up. In the field, we usually have several of these in a line to feed all the troops," Staff Sgt. Alex Thibodeaux added.
Guests were instructed to line-up single-file, entering the MKT from the right stairway and exiting from the left.
The menu featured sausage links, bacon, gravy, grits, hashbrown potatoes, biscuits, waffles, French toast, made-to-order eggs, and many other breakfast favorites.
Guests were visibly pleased by the new experience.
Nancy Hanks, CEO for the Milan Family YMCA, expressed her delight while standing in line, anticipating her encounter with an authentic military breakfast.
"This is very cool," she commented, not referring to the weather. "I can't wait to see inside."
Stepping into the Army-green, tarp-covered structured, the guests were enveloped by the aroma of a hot, home-style breakfast. One could imagine how these familiar scents could be a comfort to a Soldier in an unfamiliar land.
During the meal, guests commented in surprised tones about the flavor and quality of the food. Many who expected MREs and powdered eggs were especially impressed.
"I didn't know the military had food like this," commented Jerry Watson, Minority College Relations intern.
The food service division showed gratitude to Eoff for the training opportunity.
"We appreciate the opportunity to come down here and train," Black stated. "Our cooks just finished basic training, and it's good for us to test them out so we know we have the best when we go to the competition."
"Great." "Unique." "Amazing." Local business leaders used these exact words, among other complimentary terms, to describe the military breakfast experience during the February Network Connection.
The 101st Sustainment Brigade's food service division will compete against other Army food service divisions for a national title. As Black stated before the meal, "When you win a Connelly award, you know you have the best in the Army."