By Sgt. Kimberly K. MenziesAugust 28, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky-U.S. Army Spc. James F. McCollum from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and native of Radcliff, Ky., was awarded the 101st Airborne Division Commanding General's Best Cook of the Quarter, Aug. 22, 2012 at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Soldiers representing dining facilities on the entire installation are inspected and graded on military occupational specialty knowledge, basic U.S. Army and 101st Abn. Div. history and knowledge, similar to a general Soldier of the Quarter board. The Soldier that receives the overall highest score is awarded the title, Best Cook of the Quarter.
"It was just like a Soldier of the Month board but for [food service specialists]," said McCollum.
When asked what receiving such an honor meant to him, McCollum remained humble and referenced his Family as inspiration.
"This was a great honor," shares McCollum. "Everything I do is for my daughter who is smiling down on me but I also know this makes my parents proud too."
McCollum's parents are both Veterans, his father is a retired first sergeant and his mother is a sergeant first class stationed in Los Angeles.
Though his achievement is quite an honor, both McCollum and his superiors are proud but also recognize the hard work and determination he demonstrated.
"We are very proud," said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Grinston, the command sergeant major of 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div. "Anytime a Soldier rises above and does well, it is a great reflection of their potential and determination. With his knowledge, Spc. McCollum is providing a great service for 4th Brigade and his fellow Soldiers. He should definitely be proud of that."
"This achievement shows that Spc. McCollum has the knowledge and courage to distinguish himself as a culinarian and it marks a way ahead in achieving food service excellence for the 4th Brigade Dining Facility and its Soldiers," said Sgt. 1st Class Cassandra Carter, the 4th Bde. Dining Facility manager from HHC, 801st Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div.
"I just studied hard and did the best that I could," said McCollum. "I wanted to show other Soldiers that our job is not only about cooking. You can learn and have fun with our job, and get recognized for that knowledge."
"This win encourages all Soldiers working in the 4th Bde. Dining Facility to compete, win and excel; setting the example for each other and representing their units, their dining facility and Fort Campbell," said Carter.
"This also highlights that our Currahee Soldiers continue to give their best to improve the quality of life for all Currahees and their Families."
When asked what advice he would give to others hoping to gain this same achievement, McCollum references determination.
"Study hard," begins McCollum. "Don't let anyone discourage you, no matter what rank you are. Even if you are the lowest ranking private, you can achieve what I did."
The 4th Brigade Combat Team Dining Facility was awarded the 101st Airborne Division Commanding General's Best Dining Facility or "Best Mess" of the Quarter, July 20, 2012 at Fort Campbell, Ky.