DOVER, DE, UNITED STATES
Story by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez Diener
Delaware National Guard Public Affairs
Hip-hop music playing on the radio. An oven humming. Scrambled eggs sizzling. Utensils clattering.
These are sounds the services team assigned to the dining facility hear while preparing food during the Central Delaware Partnership for Hope 2021 Innovative Readiness Training in Dover, Delaware.
With 16 total personnel—14 Air National Guard and two Army Reserve—the team cooks all the meals for the nearly 250 service members who are providing no-cost health care to the underserved community in the area Aug. 1-9.
“We have a great services team,” said Pennsylvania Air National Guard Capt. Matthew Robinson, services officer in charge.
The bulk of the team arrived July 29 from Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and started serving meals within six hours.
“Everybody is always hungry,” said Airman 1st Class LaSheonia Smith, Pennsylvania National Guard.
As the IRT mission progresses, the team churns more than 500 meals a day, providing breakfast and dinner on main operational site and a mobile lunch to the three locations providing medical, dental optometry, mental health and nutrition services to the general public.
“We feed [the service members] and give them drinks and make sure that they are ok to do what they need to do,” Smith said.
By mission’s end, the team will have prepared more than 7,000 meals for the service members participating in the joint medical-training mission, according to Robinson.
“There’s been lots of great effort from our team,” Robinson said. In fact, he said many on his team are using their personal time to either help with translating at the sites or in taking suture training.
“We’re glad to be here in a joint environment, with a joint team, supporting this awesome mission in the local community,” Robinson added.
The joint training has brought together Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force Guard and Reserve units from throughout the country and provides direct and lasting benefits to residents of each community served while teaching service members best practices.
“It’s an amazing thing to do: Giving back to the people [helping the community],” Smith said. “It’s nice to see everybody coming together to help with the one cause.”
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