By Sgt. Shanika L. FutrellAugust 28, 2012
When Soldiers get off work at their duty stations, many of them look forward to a shower and a meal. For the Task Force Wings Soldiers conducting training at Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 19-29, that luxury can be hard to come by.
However, to keep the morale up, leaders brought food service specialists on the Joint Operations Aviation Exercise to cook and serve food by use of the containerized kitchen.
The CK is a portable, self-contained system for food preparation, cooking, and warming meals that can feed as many as 800 Soldiers three times per day.
Every morning at 7 to 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and every evening at 6 to 7:30 p.m., Soldiers rush between the portable tents to make it to the CK for a good meal.
Soldiers are given a wide variety of foods -- including a choice between breakfast and dinner foods -- and a selection of fruits and vegetables are available.
"We have to treat the Soldiers right," said Spc. Kendra Nobus, a Task Force Wings food service specialist. "They are out there day and night training in the sweltering heat, getting bit by mosquitoes and fire ants, the least we can do is have something for them to look forward to at the end of the day."
Despite the severe heat, the cooks still maintain their professionalism while serving Soldiers.
"Professionalism is something that is natural to us," said Nobus. "We are well-trained and disciplined Soldiers and when we serve with a smile and respect, that is what we get back."
The performance of the food service specialists does not go unnoticed. Almost every Soldier who passed by for a promptly-served meal expressed humble gratitude to the food service specialists.
"We hear, 'Thank you,' 'You are doing a great job,' and our favorite is 'The food is great,'" said Spc. Rhonda Elliott, a Task Force Wings food service specialist. "They motivate me with their comments, so I ensure I do my best to motivate them with good food, service and a smile during their breakfast and dinner meals."
"(A)thank you is not enough when it comes to the hard work those guys put in," said Sgt. Jhamel Lankford, an AH-64D Apache helicopter maintainer. "It is already hot out here, and I can't even imagine the heat they endure while cooking those delicious and juicy steaks. I appreciate every meal because we all could be eating a (meal ready to eat), it's almost like a slice of home that many of us truly miss."
After each meal is finished and cleaned up, the food service specialists leave satisfied and with a smile.
"Its always worth it when Soldiers are well fed and happy," said Elliott. "We are but a small contribution to the mission, but happy Soldiers help with mission success, and we do what we can to help the mission be successful."