CHABELLEY AIRFIELD, DJIBOUTI
Story by Staff Sgt. Alex Echols
The 776th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron Services team sustains the mission at Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti, by feeding, housing and providing entertainment to the men and women working on the installation and supporting the U.S. Air Force’s African partners in their efforts to prevent destabilization of the region.
Each day, the team of eight Airmen receives, inspects, prepares and serves roughly 800 meals to Airmen, Soldiers and contractors fulfilling their duties on the airfield.
The services team provides hot food cooked and delivered from Camp Lemonnier’s galley for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a midnight meal for hungry personnel on swing shift. They also stock and maintain a variety of grab and go options between meal times.
Like most of the services team, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Juan Serrano, 776th EABS Services assistant manager, is deployed from the 156th Wing, Puerto Rico Air National Guard at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico.
“We make sure everyone is fed, well rested and have some much needed entertainment, and I feel proud of that job,” said Serrano. “We’re helping people every day, and that’s why I joined the Air Force in the first place. I’m glad to be here.”
The 776th EABS Civil Engineer team is now in the planning phase of constructing of a new installation dining facility.
“With the new DFAC, the dining and kitchen areas will be all housed in one much larger facility, which will provide more room and allow us to offer many more food options,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Joyner, 776th EABS Services superintendent.
While feeding hungry personnel is their main mission, the team fulfills another equally important roll: providing morale, welfare and recreation services to individuals at Chabelley. The Airmen are doing their part for the installation upgrade by improving these on-base amenities and recreational areas.
“I can’t say enough about the great things services is doing,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Crammer, 776th EABS commander. “I asked them to ensure we have a good MWR program, and they’ve knocked it out of the park. Morale is critical to an austere deployed location like this, and we are really fortunate to have our services Airmen.”
So far, the unit has built a basketball court, reorganized and ordered new equipment for the gym facilities, renovated and restocked the Red Cross building, and purchased new video game consoles and installed a theater area for movie screenings for the MWR tent.
During their most ambitious project, the Airmen built an entire cookout deck where they can grill and serve freshly prepared food like steaks, chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs.
Along with weekly morale events like weightlifting contests and pull-up challenges, once a month, services hosts a Spartan Shindig, which is a large themed party where members from across the installation can relax, socialize and escape their demanding workload for a little while. These events are geared toward bringing the Chabelley community together to play and work as a team.
“It is important to pull everyone together to boost morale,” said Joyner. “We offer things for people to do to prevent them from feeling stagnant and sitting in their rooms all day. That’s the worst feeling in a deployed location. Offering events like these can help bring everyone closer together.”