JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers in food service with 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, were named some of the best in the industry when they won first place in the Philip A. Connelly Awards Competition for best Active Army Field Kitchen at the Forces Command level here July 27.
The competition, created by the Army and the International Food Service Executive Association, was named after Philip A. Connelly.
“He was basically the father of food service [in the Army],” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Philip D. Saunders, a Philadelphia native, now the chief food adviser with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17th FiB. “He was the one who set all the standards.”
Judges in the competition critique food service teams based on certain categories such as food safety, site layout and supervision. According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Princido Texidor, a Forces Command food advisor and contest judge, the most important thing Soldiers need to exhibit in any of these categories is knowledge.
“It’s not about what you think, but what it is,” Texidor said. “[Soldiers] need to know how to do things according to regulatory guidance.”
Saunders said he believes that’s what earned his team the win. The reason they entered a competition for excellence in food service was because “excellence in food service” is exactly what his team possesses, he said.
Saunders’ confidence in his team is based on their camaraderie, teamwork and the leadership of Sgt. 1st Class Donald Hillard, the chief food operations sergeant with HHB, 17th FiB.
According to Hillard, his ability to lead his team is greatly enhanced by the quality of his soldiers.
“I’ve been in [the Army] for about 20 years, and I would say this is one of the best groups of soldiers I’ve ever worked with,” Hillard said. “They work hard and they’re always willing to do more.”
The food service soldiers with 308th BSB have won the competition at both the installation level and the Force Command level, but their work is far from done.
They’ve moved up to the final bracket of the contest and are working to win the title of best food service section in the entire Department of the Army. Hillard said he’s excited at the chance to compete at that level, and thinks they’ve got a good chance at winning.
The food service soldiers are currently in the field, training for the final competition and following a clear-cut plan, said Saunders.
“[We plan to] continue meeting the standard, staying in accordance with all the regulations and pushing forward,” he said.