3rd MLG mess competes for WPT Hill Award

3rd MLG mess competes for WPT Hill Award

by Cpl. Janessa K. Pon, III MEF/MCIPAC Consolidated Public Affairs Office
U.S. Marine Corps

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan --  “An army marches on its stomach.” This 200-year-old quote from Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French general at the turn of the 19th century, holds true to this day as Marines with 3rd Marine Logistics Group contend for the highest food service honor in the Marine Corps.

The Marines with Food Service Company, Headquarters Regiment, 3rd MLG, III Marine Expeditionary Force, competed for the Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill Memorial award in the field mess category Oct. 20 aboard Camp Kinser.

Established in 1985, the award was created to reward high quality food service by identifying the best mess halls and field messes throughout the Marine Corps and encouraging a commitment to excellence through competition. The field mess, Camp Thunderdome, was evaluated on 11 different categories including operations, sanitation, taste and quality of food.

The award not only recognizes the efforts made by food service specialists to providing nutrition to their fellow Marines, but also their contribution to improving the quality of life for Marines and sailors, both in garrison and the field, according to Sgt. Jonathan Denham, a food service specialist with the company.

“Chow is morale,” said Denham. “When the quality of chow is low, morale begins to deplete. As food service specialists, we work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Cooks arrived early in the morning and immediately went to work cutting through miniature mountains of biscuit dough, stirring pools of melted cheese, and grilling enough pork chops to feed more than 300 hungry service members expected to show up for lunch. The cooks cut no corners, ensuring the quality of the meal did not diminish as the quantity rose.

“I make every meal as if I were cooking for my family,” said Lance Cpl. Ashreonia Friar, a food service specialist with the company and a Booneville, Mississippi, native. “When Marines are out on field exercises or operations for a long period of time, hiking through jungles and sleeping out in the rain, they quickly start to lose the motivation they need to continue the mission. If I can provide them with something to look forward to and give them that oomph they need to go on, then I did my job.”

While the cooks toiled in the kitchen over hot grills and ovens, their fellow Marines scrambled to construct a cozy dining area. Every aspect of the dining hall was assembled to create the perfect eating environment for weary Marines, from the aesthetically pleasing salad bar to the arrangement of the Fallen Comrades Table, set up to honor fallen, missing, or imprisoned service members.

“The setup of the dining area is almost as important as the food itself,” said Sgt. Steven Homidas, the chief cook for the field mess with the company. “Out in the field the chow tent is like a safe haven for Marines. This is where the Marines come to relax and unwind.”

As for the award competition, the Marines are not too stressed out over winning or losing, according to Homidas.

“As much as I would love the bragging rights of saying we’re the best, that’s not my main priority. Our job is to make sure Marines have the energy and nutrition the need to complete their mission. If we happen to win an award while doing it then I’ll take it,” said the Orlando, Florida native, with a grin.

If Food Service Company wins best mess hall or field mess in the Asia-Pacific region, 3rd MLG will earn the opportunity to compete against units worldwide for the honor to be crowned the best mess hall in the Marine Corps at the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show May 21-24 in Chicago.

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