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    1st Infantry Division Culinary Specialists carve their way into Thanksgiving

    FORT RILEY, KS, UNITED STATES

    11.17.2021

    Story by Spc. Alvin Conley 

    19th Public Affairs Detachment

    FORT RILEY, Kan. – With a daily routine of quietly entering his dining facility in order to not disturb his Soldiers and hear ‘At Ease’ being called, Devil’s Den Dining Facility manager Sgt. 1st Class Andre Barrett, then makes rounds to various teams and stations to check in on and interact with Soldiers before heading into the office to squeeze in administrative work.

    From there it’s time for him to hit the floor and verify his team is ready to open their doors and serve breakfast, where he continues to make rounds and assist his culinary specialists and dining Soldiers in whatever way he can.

    As the Thanksgiving holiday nears, Barrett, a culinary specialist senior noncommissioned officer has found his typical morning battle rhythm incorporating some slight changes.

    “With shifting focus for the upcoming Thanksgiving meal it seems as though the Soldiers are able to find me more often than I look for them,” said Barrett. “This meal is more than just an opportunity to showcase our talents, so a lot of planning and prep work goes into it.”

    Facing challenges this year such as not being in their original dining facility/warrior restaurant, continuing to incorporate COVID-19 protocols, and being limited on space, the Devil’s Den culinary team came together to utilize the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general’s program, Victory Wellness, to keep unit morale high.

    “As 92 Golfs (culinary specialists) we typically don’t get the opportunity to participate in traditional Victory Wellness events, but beginning December 3, that will change,” said Barrett. “In support of Big Red One (BRO) Time, dining facilities will change their dinner hours to 1500-1630, which allows us to enjoy the benefits of BRO Time as well.”

    BRO Time is a part of the CG’s Victory Wellness Campaign, which gives Soldiers an early release on Fridays during a five-day work week.
    Barrett isn’t the only culinary specialist who’s witnessed the incorporation of Victory Wellness to boost morale within the Devil’s Den team as the holidays near.

    “Being a cook includes all the parts of Victory Wellness,” said Spc. Antoneisha Randall-Morgan, a culinary specialist assigned to 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “It’s physical, we work together as a family, it’s social because we interact with the Soldiers who dine here, and it can be an emotional or spiritual outlet for some people.”

    “The BRO Time change for us is a real life blessing,” said Cpl. Mateo Valentine, a culinary specialist assigned to 299th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “But I’m also looking forward to seeing all the families and smiles when they eat.”

    At Fort Riley, Devil’s Den Warrior Restaurant is one of two DFACs hosting a Thanksgiving meal.

    “It’s a competition as well as a dinner for the Dining Facilities,” said Sgt. Maj. Jackie Zerby, the 1st Infantry Division chief culinary management noncommissioned officer. “Each one has a surprise theme that their decorations, menus and culinary displays should support.”

    But with both the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Combat Aviation Brigade currently deployed to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, 1ID is making sure to celebrate Thanksgiving on a global scale while also incorporating Victory Wellness.

    Sgt. Michael John Davies, a generator mechanic with 1st Infantry Division Forward in Poznan, Poland, said that Victory Wellness has helped him tremendously while being overseas.

    “Victory Wellness has helped me stay resilient through the holidays by connecting with my second family; my Soldiers and my peers,” said Davies. “The activities we enjoy are very special and memorable.”

    From choosing dining facility competition/decoration themes to ordering everything needed to ensure a smooth execution, Zerby describes how preparation for the Thanksgiving meals has been ongoing for months.
    “The work doesn’t start on Thanksgiving Day and the work doesn’t end on Thanksgiving Day,” said Zerby. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the culinary specialists and the command teams working side by side for the day. It’s a hard day for us, but it’s a fun day for us as well.”

    As a result of Operation Victory Wellness, whether deployed or at home-station, Soldiers within the 1st Infantry Division are staying resilient, and are excited to have their respective Thanksgiving dinner holiday meals between the dates of Nov. 23-25.

    -30-

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.17.2021
    Date Posted: 11.24.2021 15:43
    Story ID: 410033
    Location: FORT RILEY, KS, US 

    Web Views: 55
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN