FARGO, ND, UNITED STATES
Story by Chief Master Sgt. David Lipp
During June drill, Tech. Sgt. Will Case, of the 119th Services Flight, led the effort to train and feed Happy Hooligans as part of a readiness exercise at the North Dakota Air National Guard base June 3-5, 2021.
Case was a key contributor to the 119th Services Flight feeding more than 550 members from a single pallet expeditionary kitchen (SPEK) during the exercise.
The SPEK is a mobile, tent-based field kitchen meant to provide the means to feed U.S. Air Force personnel at a basic expeditionary airfield resources (BEAR) base as it is being established at an austere location before any other means are available. It is packed onto one pallet, can be loaded onto an aircraft and then off-loaded, setup and be utilized as the first kitchen-in-place for up to 60 days.
Every Air National Guard unit is required to have a SPEK, and to conduct training for use of the equipment annually. A tasked unit is expected to be able to deploy the SPEK equipment and personnel within 72 hours of notice, and six people are expected to be able to set it up and ensure it’s fully functional in eight hours. The SPEK can be utilized at a forward operating area for combat support, or in response to a natural disaster for personnel coming to the aid of communities without operational infrastructure.
Case transferred into the 119th Wing in 2016 after serving nine years in the 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, North Dakota Army National Guard. He attended U.S. Air Force Technical Training School, participated in Silver Flag(a services training program at Dobbins Air Force Base, Ga.), attended Airman Leadership School, and then deployed to Al Udeid.
Many of the newer 119th Services Flight members have not had the opportunity to use a SPEK since their initial training, and even then, they didn’t serve a meal for 500. During this exercise, Case and his team are exceeding the standard by feeding the maximum number of personnel recommended for the SPEK for the exercise.
“While it is an annual requirement for personnel to train on the SPEK equipment, it is over and above to actually feed out of it, especially to a capacity of over 500. We are hoping it leads to good team-building,” said Master Sgt. Samantha Kolness, the 119th Services Flight superintendent.
“It was impressive to see the SPEK in action,” said Capt. Jeremiah Colbert, 119th Wing executive officer. “The services team worked incredibly well together, and the food was just as good as if it had been served out of their permanent kitchen.”
In addition to food preparation, services flight is responsible for lodging, fitness and sports, readiness, and mortuary services.
“Most people think of services as just food preparation, but we are responsible for much more than that. In addition to the SPEK, we would have had to set up a morale recreation program within 30 days of arrival at a BEAR Base,” said Case.
The outdoor temperature reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the SPEK food service, adding to the challenge for the services flight team.
“Even though it got really hot, everyone has been in great spirits, and Master Sgt. Adam Lund and Tech. Sgt. Will Case have been great leaders running the show – but we’ve all been there for each other to make this happen as a team,” said Kolness.
““There is nothing better than being able to showcase what we can provide to the wartime mission or domestic operations when called upon. I’m just really proud of our flight and what we were able to accomplish over the course of this exercise,” said Case.