FORT STEWART, Ga. –The Department of the Army announced the 4Infantry Brigade Combat Team Vanguard Dining Facility, 3rd Infantry Division, as the winner of the 45th Philip A. Connelly Award for best military garrison dining facility, May 13.
Since 1968, the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program has promoted professionalism and excellence within Army food services by evaluating the appearance, food preparation procedures and sanitation of military dining facilities.
Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Owens, from Bolingbrook, Ill., the Vanguard Dining Facility manager with the 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th IBCT, and his team knew they possessed the characteristics needed to be a Connelly award recipient and set out to become one. Owens knew that to be the best, he and his team had to believe they were the best so when the facility opened in 2010, he presented his team with a new name, the “Swagger Team.”
“Swagger started in June 2010,” Owens said. “I knew that in order to accomplish the goals that I had set forth and the vision of becoming the best dining facility on Fort Stewart and in the world, it was going to take a special edge to achieve that goal.”
It seemed that adding a dash of swagger, or self-confidence, to their work was just the ingredient the 4th IBCT chefs needed to be successful.
During 2012, the Vanguard Dining Facility’s chefs won 32 individual awards in various culinary competitions to include the Fort Stewart, Ga., Culinary Specialist of the Year Award, which was presented to Spc. Aaron Vegh, a food service specialist with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, who hails from Lansing, Mich.
The facility received four installation awards to include Best Decorated Commanding General’s Mess Award for Thanksgiving 2012, and was chosen to host many of the installations VIP luncheons. Owens and his team concluded 2012 by winning the Mid-Atlantic Region Philip A. Connelly Award in October 2012, which placed them in the finals for the Connelly award.
Seven months later, the announcement was published naming the Vanguard Dining Facility the winners of the award.
One of the 32 noncommissioned officers and Soldiers who contributed to the Vanguard Dining Facility’s success, Sgt. Michael Myers, a food service NCO from Danville, Va., was overjoyed when he heard the news while deployed at Forward Operating Base Shank.
“My team and I have spent the last two years striving for this goal; we have been through the best and the worst of things,” Myers said. “The hours spent at the dining facility for training and preparations have finally paid off, and our end result was without question or deniability. We are the best in the world and that is something that can never be taken from us.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Mosier, from Richmond Hill, Ga., and the 703rd BSB command sergeant major said that while the team was preparing to go to combat in Afghanistan they were also preparing to compete and win at the highest level in the Army.
“Our Soldiers display selfless-service and ability to put the mission before their personal lives to ultimately achieve this huge honor of having the best dining facility in the Army, and it's an honor for me to be part of this team,” said Mosier.