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    Army Cooks: feeding the force

    Army cooks Feeding the Force

    Courtesy Photo | Pvt. Candice Ruiz, a cook assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment,...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Fort Irwin Operations Group

    By Spc. Thomas Duval

    FORT IRWIN, Calif.--Trying to feed more than 4,000 hungry mouths can be difficult for even the most experienced cooks. Add in the fact that the mouths are those of hungry soldiers who are training in the intense Mojave Desert for 12 hours a day during a rotation at the U.S. Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., and one might have themselves a new reality show on the Food Network Channel.

    Although the conditions may sound like a nightmare to a cook in, a small town restaurant, or the next episode of the hit TV show ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, the cooks assigned to the 25th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, stationed out of Fort Wainwright Alaska, are answering the challenge twice a day for an entire month-long rotation at the NTC.

    “It can be very challenging to meet the needs of so many soldiers but we all love our job and I wouldn’t want to do any other job in the military,” said Spc. Yvonna Johnson, a cook assigned to the 25th BSB.

    Johnson is a member of a ten-soldier team called the Field Feeding Team.

    A typical day for the FFT starts before most soldiers wake up and ends after everyone has turned in for the night. On average the 1/25th FFT’s work 17-hour days and are responsible for prepping, cooking and distributing over 12,000 pounds of food, across the Brigade in a single day.

    “Other soldiers think we have it easy but it is tough,” said Pfc. Justin Smith a cook currently assigned to the 25th BSB. “It’s a lot of work that some soldiers learn to appreciate and unfortunately some don’t.”

    Although cooks are often overlooked as an important part in combat operations Johnson said most soldiers would agree that without food even the strongest Army would fail.

    As important as their ability to cook is to the mission, it’s not the only thing Army cooks contribute to the fight.

    In addition to their responsibilities behind the grill, the “Opahey,” (a nickname given to their Battalion), cooks set up hand washing stations, manage trash bins, and are trained in advanced field sanitation operations.

    Field sanitation teams provide beneficial and complimentary service to the FFT and provide a clean environment for the cooks - something Johnson says is more important than the actual taste of the food.

    “The whole environment is dirt... so it’s important that we have a sanitary team to help prevent our Soldiers from getting sick,” Johnson said. “Everything we do has to be with the highest quality of sanitation.”

    “Soldiers don’t realize that we actually do a lot more than just cook,” said Johnson. “We try our best to make sure the soldiers are happy and that soldiers are given the highest quality of sanitation possible so we don’t have soldiers getting sick.”

    Johnson said things can get difficult sometimes trying to balance so many different responsibilities but said she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    “At the end of the day we are cooks and we are happy to do our job and for those who aren’t I find ways to motivate them,” Johnson laughed.



    Date Taken: 02.17.2011
    Date Posted: 02.17.2011 17:26
    Story ID: 65618
    Location: FORT IRWIN, CA, US 

    Web Views: 276
    Downloads: 1