FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, PA, UNITED STATES
Story by Pfc. Aliyah Vivier
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa– Culinary Specialists Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Frey and Specialists Jeremiah Clark, Monique Williams and Zaquil Clark, all assigned to the 1069th Military Police Company, 165th Military Police Battalion, 55th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade prepared and served a ‘back from the field’ dinner for members of the 165th MP Battalion, around 130 Soldiers in total, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. July 19, 2022.
While each of the culinary specialists has a different background and idea of why they feel their profession is relevant in today’s Army, all agree on the importance of their profession both in and out of the field.
“Normally when you come out of the field you have a heavy home cooked meal to boost morale,” Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Frey said.
A hot meal can go a long way in terms of boosting morale in the Army. Individual Soldiers don’t always know the living situations of others and when any given person’s next meal may be.
“Making sure Soldiers get a hot home cooked meal is important,” Frey said. “Some Soldiers don’t get a hot meal except during drill weekends or field exercises.”
Though kitchen staffing availability can impact the quantity of meals a dining team can prepare, each culinary specialist is trained to be able to serve a certain amount of Soldiers for each meal.
“Each cook should be able to prepare meals for around 50 to 75 people,” Spc. Jeremiah Clark said.
They are also sometimes expected to work long hours depending on if they have non-culinary related training or other duties planned for the day.
“We sometimes perform up to 16-hour days because we do the same trainings that other units have to do,” Clark said. “We’ll get in at 3 a.m. to go to the range to do weapons qualification, then come in [to the dining facility] and start everything else we need to do for that day.”
Army culinary specialists get the opportunity to learn different life skills that they may not have the chance to learn in their civilian lives.
“This is my first time cooking a lot of different things. I don’t cook in my civilian life, so being able to use these different skills is also a good benefit of being a culinary specialist,” Spc. Zaquil Watson said.
Culinary specialists are important to daily life in the military.
“It’s meaningful whether I’m cooking in a kitchen or handing out an ready-to-eat meal to a Soldier,” Clark said.