EWA BEACH, HI, UNITED STATES
Story by Tech. Sgt. Tabitha Hurst
As dawn reaches Kalaeloa Airport and orange hues peek out from behind the clouds, the generators are already buzzing and the training exercise is wide awake. The morning begins at 5 a.m. for the 154th Force Support Squadron food services personnel that run the Disaster Mobile Readiness Kitchen Trailer.
They’re staged and ready for operation as designed, serving three hot meals a day to over 200 Airmen and Soldiers. The joint team filters their way on the installation for an external evaluation training event but for services, the food is already on the grill. Eggs, french toast, and coffee fill the morning air the as the DMRKT’s real-word training is in action.
“I really love this job” Airman 1st Class Judyanne Ramos said as she worked the gridle. “Not everywhere we go has a dining facility, if were on a bare base we would need this to ensure we give out hot meals.”
The DRMKT is a kitchen on wheels, but it’s not just any gourmet food truck, it has everything you could imagine. The back of the truck opens up to a large ramp allowing airflow and space for food services to ‘work their magic.’ Inside the truck has everything needed for making food from scratch which includes a four-foot-gridle, a double door convection oven, a 15-gallon stock pot and a tray ration heating system.
The kitchen’s capabilities include feeding up to 1,000 personnel in 90-minutes and is specifically designed to support contingency disasters which is a first responder’s primary mission. In the case of disasters, the truck is fully deployable. It can be towed with a standard heavy duty pickup truck and fits perfectly in the back of a C-130. Being readily available to serve food to hungry personnel is morale-boosting and is a key logistical component to any disaster response situation.
“Being out in the field is not always the best thing, but everybody loves food and it’s the only way we can boost up the morale here and everybody is ready for the mission,” Ramos explains.
Chatter gathers around the DRMKT as members pick-up their food, leaving smiles on their faces, just as intended. One meal of the day is complete for this training event, then it’s onto the next meal for food services personnel. They prep, cook, and clean, repeating this process three times a day. Real-world training is vital to the DRMKT mission because it helps food services personnel get comfortable cooking inside.
The purpose of the DRMKT is not only to nourish Airmen and Soldiers but to also to give them a place to congregate and boost their moral in times of disasters. When a real tragedy strikes the DRMKT will be there to stimulate senses, fill hearts with comradery, and bellies with local, home-cooked meals.