FT. POLK, LA
FORT POLK, La. — For the second rotation in a row, rotational unit mess teams have continued to feed their Soldiers after they move from the Joint Readiness Training Center “box” area to the rear as they prepare to return to their home stations.
In rotation 18-06 in April, the 82nd Airborne Division became the first unit in several years to feed its Soldiers once they moved from the box to the redeployment area. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Barnes, JRTC and Fort Polk food service advisor, said it was a success and had the potential to save units money that could be better used elsewhere.
Rotation 18-07 in May, featuring the Georgia National Guard’s Infantry Brigade Combat Team, took on the same mission, using MOS (military occupational specialty) 92Gs, culinary specialists, to feed the unit’s Soldiers both in the field and the redeployment area.
“The 48th IBCT has solidified what I have known since I have been stationed here at the JRTC and Fort Polk, which is 92Gs can support their brigade without the use of contracted food service professionals,” Barnes said.
“The unique thing about the 48th IBCT 92G’s is they do not work in a consolidated dining facility, nor do they see each other on a day-to-day basis, but were instructed to follow the same feeding guidelines as their active duty brothers and sisters.”
Food service specialists with the 48th IBCT agreed. Spc. Devanee Houston is a 92G and the work has been “OK.”
“It wasn’t bad at all,” she said. “It’s been a little more stressful for us. If the civilians were feeding us we could probably relax a little more, but I think it’s better for our Soldiers this way. We have to hustle, but I know our Soldiers like it when we feed them.”
Spc. Danielle Ramsey was one of those Soldiers. She said the unit’s cooks do a great job.
“The cooks take care of us really well,” she said. “They are the best, whether it’s in the field, during drill or here.”
Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Thomas is one of the food service supervisors. He said he was proud of the work done by the 92Gs from the Georgia National Guard.
“It’s been kind of hectic,” Thomas said. “Most of the Soldiers don’t know what we (food service) have to go through to feed them and get ready to go home, all at the same time. It takes a lot of time when you figure we have to prepare the food, serve it, clean everything up, then start it all again; it’s long hours.”
Thomas said he appreciates it when the Georgia Soldiers compliment them on the chow they provide.
“It makes us feel good when our Soldiers tell us that they would rather have us feed them,” he said. “It takes all hands on deck when your feeding and packing up to go home, but that’s our job and we do it. We average feeding two or three thousand each meal and that takes a lot of work.”
As for Barnes, he said after watching both the 82nd Airborne Division and the Georgia National Guard’s 48th IBCT, letting unit 92Gs feed their own Soldiers is a no brainer.
“I think the 48th IBCT 92Gs hit a grand slam considering they only interact with each other one weekend a month,” Barnes said. “The food service leaders definitely had their team ready for the challenge.”