News: Food service soldier keeps unit fed at training outpost
Story by Sgt. David Strayer
MANILA TRAINING CENTER, Iraq – Soldiers of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, recently assumed responsibility of operations and manning the remote training outpost at the Manila Training Center in Kirkuk province, Iraq.
The field artillery soldiers, deployed to northern Iraq as part of 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, do not, however, go without hot, fresh cooked meals during their days.
Spc. Clifford Stewart, a food service specialist with Company B, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st AATF, works at the training center to provide support to fellow soldiers training Iraqi forces in support of Operation New Dawn.
“My mission here at Manila is to provide support to the soldiers of the [1st Bn., 5th FA Regt.] while they are out here on this outpost conducting their training mission,” said Stewart. “This is the first time I have been out to a place like Manila. It is an eye-opener; it really makes you appreciate everything that is on the larger posts here in Iraq.”
Stewart currently serves as the only food service specialist on the outpost at Manila Training Center. He provides two hot meals per day – a breakfast and a dinner – as well as a cold-cut sandwich lunch for soldiers to grab and eat while on the run or working.
“Our days are pretty busy; we only have one battery of soldiers here to go out and conduct the advise, train, and assist missions, pull security, and conduct the base defense mission,” said Sgt. Ian Blankenship, Battery A. “It really helps to know that there is going to be a hot meal at the beginning and at the end of the day. It’s a big morale booster.”
Each morning, Stewart is one of the first soldiers to be up and moving at Manila. If soldiers find themselves awake at 4:30 a.m., they can find Stewart firing up the burners in his kitchen to make sure soldiers have the nourishment they need to accomplish the mission, day in and day out.
“I work on the MKT, the modular kitchen trailer,” said Stewart. “It’s an all-in-one kitchen unit that we can take pretty much anywhere we go; it has everything I need to be able to do my job.”
Stewart said he typically begins his day at 4:30 a.m., and finishes cooking the last meal of the day around 6:30 p.m.
“The most gratifying part of being out here at Manila is being able to provide the soldiers out here with the meals they desperately need,” said Stewart. “If I wasn’t here to do this job, the soldiers out here would be limited to MREs, or meals ready to eat. Their job is hard enough living out here on an outpost like this without having to go without good food.”