News: Army cooks replace contractors at Warhorse
CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION GARRY OWEN, Iraq – As the United States Army's mission in Iraq winds down, soldiers find themselves giving up progressively more of their creature comforts. At Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen, Iraq, Soldiers from 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are “getting lean” in preparation for that day.
The soldiers from F Company, 215th BSB reached a milestone recently when the contracted company that cooked meals and maintained the dining facility, packed up their knives, chef’s hats, and aprons and handed over the day-to-day operations to Army cooks.
Now, Sgt. 1st Class Horoma Domogma, the noncommissioned officer in charge and a native of Hilo, Hawaii, has to do with 12 soldiers what was once done with 84 contractors. It's a daunting task, and soldiers are working long days to accomplish the mission. Soldiers' days are ending at 10 p.m. and then they start all over again at 2 a.m. to get the first meal ready.
Spc. Bryan Geiger, a Gilbert, Ariz., native, is in charge of making sure the warehouse is stacked and ready to go. All supplies and food arrive by convoy, and Geiger has to unload it and stack it in the warehouse. Once everything is stacked and accounted for, he pulls out what the unit needs for each meal. Everything the dining facility needs is stored here: paper products, chips, drinks, food, condiments and meals ready to eat. The warehouse area is one of the busiest spots because food items need to be stored at different temperatures and certain foods must be defrosted for a 24-hour period before it is ready to be served.
A hiccup here means the hot meal soldiers were looking forward to all day is suddenly replaced with MREs.
“If he went down, I'm dead,” Domogma joked, about Geiger.
And other areas are just as important.
“We must maintain the [dining] area, do a headcount, and that's got to be accurate to compare how much food is needed,” said Domogma. “The ration order is based on head count. We have to monitor to-go plates so we know how much paper product to order. Everything's based on head count. You don't want to over order,” she added.
The F Company soldiers get additional help from the other companies who provide soldier’s who work in two shifts to help set up, serve and clean up.
But, that still mean challenging days, something that Domogma, who joined the Army in 1998 because she wanted adventure and likes to travel, said she looks forward to.
“I like the challenge,” she said.