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    An army moves on its stomach – How one Iowa National Guard sergeant ensures 2,000 Iowans are well fed and ready for action

    Ringing them up at the FOB Warrior Post Exchange

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Darwin Seehusen | Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa Army National...... read more read more

    FORT POLK, LA, UNITED STATES

    07.31.2015

    Story by Staff Sgt. Darwin Seehusen 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    FORT POLK, La. – Sometimes it takes a drill sergeant attitude to take total chaos and organize it into a working plan, especially when it comes to feeding hungry Soldiers in a field environment.

    In this case, it takes a former paratrooper, who supervises hospitality staff in the entertainment industry and plans and organizes formal events when he’s not serving his country.

    Sgt. 1st Class John DeVore, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard, has the monumental task of feeding more than 2,000 Soldiers on a daily basis, during the Iowa Army National Guard’s Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

    Devore, from Columbus Junction, Iowa, supervises 36 Soldiers at a consolidated dining facility on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Warrior. They prepare hot meals twice a day from three Containerized Kitchens (CK) and each is capable of serving up to 800 Soldiers per meal.

    Devore explained during the first meal there’s no orderliness for Soldiers trying to get their meal, condiments, and drinks. This causes bottlenecks at different stations which delays Soldiers from getting served and seated, so they can enjoy their meal.

    Devore spent three days determining the most efficient way to bring the meals from the kitchens to the service line to optimize the flow of Soldiers in and out of the dining tent and feed them as quickly as possible, in a constantly-moving line.

    “It takes old-school mess hall guidance,” said Devore with a smile on his face.

    All of Devore’s team members are cooks, and each of the CKs has six personnel prepping and cooking meals during each service. Cooks not actually working in the kitchens are serving meals or making sure the drink and condiment stations are stocked.

    “It’s (meal service) non-stop for two-and-a-half hours.” said Devore. “It’s a continuously moving line.”

    Devore said they’re serving around 2,400 meals per service and had a high of more than 4,800 meals over one day.

    The food service workers do a great job communicating with each other and are excited about working together to serve Soldiers, said Devore.

    After each meal they perform an after-action review to discuss ideas on how to provide better service.

    “The food service personnel appreciate when Soldiers tell them they’re doing an awesome job,” said Devore.

    Staff Sgt. Brad Rouse, a combat engineer from Prestonsburg, Kentucky, assigned to the 577th Sapper Company, 201st Engineer Battalion, Kentucky Army National Guard, stated the service is pretty quick and the dining facility has a variety of food available.

    Rouse likes waking up to a hot breakfast.

    “The biscuits and gravy makes you feel at home,” said Rouse. “It a real morale booster.”

    Sgt. Brian Butterfield, a logistics specialist from Sumner, Iowa assigned to Company E, 334th Brigade Support Battalion, Iowa Army National Guard, really enjoys the air-conditioned dining area.

    “The A/C is a nice touch. (It’s) the first one I’ve had in the field.” said Butterfield. “It’s better than eating in the field.”

    Butterfield especially liked the personal–sized pizza the dining facility offered.

    “They give us the nutrients we need and a hot meal beats an MRE (pre-packaged Meal Ready to Eat),” said Butterfield.

    Not everyone agrees a hot meal beats an MRE.

    Spc. Craig Borden, from Primghar, Iowa, assigned to Battery A, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery, Iowa Army National Guard, said the dining facility offered plenty of food and meals were good, but “my favorite meal is an MRE. (You) can’t mess up an MRE.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.31.2015
    Date Posted: 07.31.2015 18:22
    Story ID: 171797
    Location: FORT POLK, LA, US 
    Hometown: COLUMBUS JUNCTION, IA, US
    Hometown: PRESTONSBURG, KY, US
    Hometown: PRIMGHAR, IA, US

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    An army moves on its stomach – How one Iowa National Guard sergeant ensures 2,000 Iowans are well fed and ready for action