ALPENA, Mich. – There is no question the important role the 181st Intelligence Wing Services Flight plays in ensuring airmen stay well fed, but their duties include more than food services. The 181st Services Flight recently had an opportunity to train on those additional duties within their career field, during annual field training in July at Alpena, Mich.
In addition to managing food facilities, services is responsible for: lodging; mortuary affairs; fitness programs and facilities; morale, welfare and recreation programs and facilities; and search and recovery operations.
“In the past, all we have done when we have come up for our annual training is food service,” said Master Sgt. Amberlee. “Well, on a drill weekend, food service is our training.”
“The great thing about this annual training is we are not cooking, we are not doing food services. The rest of the base is seeing us do MWR, we are doing tournaments, we are sponsoring the Racer Retreat, we are putting up the SPEK, so we are doing things that are not normally highlighted,” said Helm.
During annual field training, service flight members received training in mortuary affairs, search and recovery operations, fitness and recreation, Fuel Fired Equipment, ServSafe, and Single Palletized Expeditionary Kitchen (SPEK) training.
ServSafe is a food and beverage safety course mandated by National Guard Bureau for anyone in food services, and administered by the National Restaurant Association. Master Sgt. Helm and Senior Master Sgt. Jay McKee are both certified instructors and proctors for the course.
During annual training, the services flight taught a ServSafe course to the 181st Services Flight, as well as members of the Vermont Air National Guard 158th Fighter Wing, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
By becoming a certified instructor and proctor, we are able to cut the cost of members attending the course by approximately half, said Helm.
The SPEK training allowed members the opportunity to train on a kitchen used in a bare base situation or domestic operation. It has the capability to serve up to 550 people, three hot meals per day, with rations known as Unitized Group Rations.
“When we deploy, it is a package that goes on a single pallet, so we can set-up a meal and feed up to 550 people from the SPEK,” said Helm
The morale, welfare and recreations activities provided by the services flight included sponsoring the Racer Retreat. A facility open to Racers only, the Racer Retreat served as a place to visit after work to socialize, play games, and meet new Racers. Additionally, the services flight hosted many tournaments, to include, softball, Eucre, basketball, golf, corn hole and a volleyball tournament.
“A lot of the ( services flight members) were really nervous about coming to Alpena because they have never been on a TDY, or they have never been to Alpena and they didn’t know what to expect, so we spent a couple months getting them jazzed so they would be excited about it,” said Helm.
“They are having a great time, they are getting a lot of training, they are all doing an excellent job, and I am just proud of them,” said Helm. “It is nice to see them growing and becoming better airmen for the Guard.”
Airman 1st Class Dalton Hatcher is a traditional guardsman within the services flight. Annual field training was his first deployment, and he was impressed with the training and leadership.
“We have great leadership with Sgt. McKee and Sergeant Helm. They did a great job getting everything together,” said Hatcher.
Hatcher feels becoming a member of the Air National Guard has provided him valuable skills beyond the technical training received for his position in the services flight.
“I’m more disciplined, I can do more, and I’m a better leader,” said Hatcher.