FORT HOOD, Texas--After many long hours and several days of shower-less nights in the field, the Soldiers from the 589th Brigade Support Battalion began feeling the effects of the on-going tactical operations.

The Iron Caisson Soldiers received a small reprieve from their 24-hour operations as food service specialist set-up a mobile kitchen trailer and prepared to serve hot meals to 125 Soldiers.

A combined team of 10 food service specialist from various units throughout the 41st Fires Brigade prepared breakfast and lunch for the Iron Caisson Soldiers in the field during a Corps-level evaluation of the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, March 28.

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program is an annual competition that provides recognition, promotes professionalism, and excellence throughout the Army food service corps.

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program is separated into field and garrison categories. This year, four brigades will compete in the field category with hopes of representing Fort Hood at the FORSCOM level evaluations.

"Today III Corps is evaluating us for the Philip A. Connelly Award to see if we have what it takes to advance to the FORSCOM level to represent the 41st Fires Bde. and Fort Hood," said Sgt. 1st Class Angelo Stewart, Newark, N.J., native, a senior food service operations sergeant, 575th Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde. "Even though we're here for a competition, it's good to be able to provide the Soldiers with a hot meal so they don't have to eat MREs all day."

The Rail Gunner food service team was comprised of Soldiers with various skill-levels. Stewart said that he wanted Soldiers on the team that loved what they did on a regular basis but also wanted to train and learn.

"Our team is an all volunteer team," said Stewart. "We chose Soldiers who wanted to participate and help bring a little recognition to the food service members throughout the brigade. It makes me feel good to see the Soldiers excited and motivated to participate in the Philip A. Connelly competition."

One of the unique factors to the competition is that menu does not affect the outcome of the competition.

"The meal doesn't have any effect on the outcome of the score," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason Hicks, Chicago native, a food advisor for III Corps. "The teams can choose any meal in accordance with the Army menus. The meal itself isn't a deciding factor, it's more about how well the team executes during the competition."

During the competition, Hicks will watch the food service personnel execute in their field functions accordance to regulations. Hicks said, he's not there to make on the spot corrections and that a unit's determination will help them pull ahead of the other teams competing.

"This is a friendly competition at the end of the day, but what makes units stand out is that hunger factor," said Hicks. "It's really about who wants it the most; what team is the hungriest."

That hunger factor that Hicks talked about is found on both sides of the competition and it is sometimes used to help motivate food service Soldiers to help their fellow Soldiers.

"I'm proud to serve Soldiers because food is fuel for them in the field," said Staff Sgt. Michelle Sippy, Detroit native, food service support supervisor, 67th Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Bde. "Even though the food service specialty is often overlooked, I don't ask for any thanks in what I do. I get a sense of gratitude when a tired Soldier comes through my line and smiles when he receives a hot meal."

Although the results of the first evaluations will not be available for a few weeks, in the end, the Rail Gunners laid out a garrison quality meal with less equipment and in the field leaving Iron Caisson Soldiers to continue training with full bellies.