Skip to comments.Redefining a MEU field mess (24th MEU)
Posted on 03/21/2008 3:22:30 PM PDT by SandRat
Messman with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit tested their Field Food Service System with a chicken lunch here.
1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Marines set up their portable food preparation system here Mar. 21. The system is powered by tactical vehicles and can provide food for up to 500 Marines at one time, regardless of location.
A BLT 1/6 Marine enjoys his freshly prepared lunch while sitting on a makeshift stool.
Cpl. Oates shows off his enticing meal courtsey of the Field Food Service System. Marines with Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 1/6), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU), NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), utilize the Field Food Service Center (FFSC) by preparing, serving, and consuming food while away from a stationary chow hall. The FFSC is able to be set up and taken down in about two hours with around 16 Marines; this allows Marines to get hot food no matter where they are while performing missions in support of NATO.
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Mar. 21, 2008) -- After toiling in the harsh sun and sand all morning, Marines surprisingly found themselves eating a hot, full course meal in a make-shift motor pool on a remote desert patch of Afghanistan.
The meal came courtesy the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s food service specialists and their new Field Food Service System, used for the first time this meal.
The FFSS is essentially a mobile kitchen where food service Marines can prepare and serve cafeteria quality meals to more than 500 Marines in remote locations.
“The Marine Corps purchased these [systems] approximately four years ago to support operations just like in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Sgt. Charles W. Parmenter, chief messman, food service specialist, Headquarters and Support Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th MEU, ISAF. “Now we are finally getting to use these [units] in these places.”
“We can supply chow (meals) in any condition, at any climate,” said Parmenter, a 10-year food service veteran. “No matter where the Marines go we can set up a field mess, which is a site where there basically is a kitchen that can feed an X amount of Marines over a certain period of time.”
The system provides all the tools needed to create a cook-out rivaling those at home, and in the case of a MEU this is the first time they have been utilized.
“Every piece of gear in here is the same as you would have at any base,” said Parmenter. “You can cook exactly the same as if you were on any base, cooking the same chow they order with the vendors.”
An invaluable advantage of the FFSS is its capability to draw power from tactical (most military) vehicles, to heat water and cook fresh-frozen meals, said Staff Sgt. Lenard V. Tilley, senior mess chief, Headquarters and Support Company, BLT 1/6, 24th MEU, ISAF.
“It’s a great piece of equipment to have when you can throw it in the back of a truck and take with you to prepare a good meal for Marines,” said Col. Peter Petronzio, commanding officer, 24th MEU, ISAF. “This piece of equipment will be a tremendous capability on the battlefield.”
Along with making a meal, grilled or steamed, the FFSS also helps keep morale high while out in the field, where the delicacy is often Meals-Ready-to-Eat.
“It’s a whole lot better than eating MRE’s, because eating MRE’s everyday just gets terrible after awhile,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Sepanski, mortarman, Combined Anti-Armor Team platoon, Weapons Company, BLT 1/6, 24th MEU, ISAF. “Having a good hot meal once and awhile is good. [It] helps you stay focused and sharp.”
Helping create an environment where Marines can relax and clear their minds is essential for operational success.
“Eventually we are going to step out the wire and do what we got to do,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher R. Sanderson, mortarman, second platoon, Weapons Co., BLT 1/6, 24th MEU, ISAF. “We are not going to have hot chow all the time, so we have to take advantage of it as much as possible.”
Fielding of the food system helps keep Marines focused by upholding the Marine Corps’ second leadership principle – troop welfare.
“I feel that is the most important part in the Marine Corps,” said Parmenter. “As long as Marines are well fed, taken care of and have good morale, we can accomplish anything, in any climate. With this piece of equipment we can (help) do that.”
Believe it or not, I never had a terrible meal in all my time in the military. As a matter of fact, some of our mess halls in Korea could rival a three or four star restaurant. Many of the mess sergeants had been to civilian chef schools, such as the Culinary Institute of America or Le Cordon Bleu.
” An invaluable advantage of the FFSS is its capability to draw power from tactical (most military) vehicles”
I’ll echo that. The shipboard food I had in the Coast Guard was generally excellent. Our cook was an SS1 and he’d been to chef school. He worked some real magic, even when the supplies were running low. He always did something special. A couple times he got a buddy in Maine to ship some boxes of live lobsters to us when we were offshore in Alaska. Schweet. Another time we had a fish call and one of the guys caught a 140lb halibut. He immediately cooked it up for the crew for dinner. Best. Halibut. Ever.
These Marines look like they’re eating pretty good. Sounds like a great idea.
But even todays MRE’s are a whole different world from the old days.
I wonder how it's transported? It looks like it breaks down into shipping container size units.
The only bad chow I had in the Corps was when we were contracting the Saudis in the early days of DS...
The only thing worse than the B-B-Q camel ribs they sent, were the B-B-Q camel ribs they sent a second time...
other than that, no complaints... as long as there was enuff to go round... can’t even count the number of times I missed chow to make sure the junior Marines could fill their bellies... as it should be...
shoulduh knowed yer big @$$ would be on a thread about chow...
Never had the camel ribs, but the bbq goat/sheep ribs (or so we were told) were good.
However, I am nostalgic about ‘pecan cake roll’.
Hah! Not so big an @ss as before... An’ slimmin’ an’ trimmin’ every day... :-)
But many miles yet to go.
Can’t say I’ve tried camel, but I got some pretty good ribs in Mexico that looked... Uh... Too small to be either pork or beef.
Not stringy enough to be cat.
But the sauce was really good. :-)
We didn’t have MRE’s, we had C-Rations. Some were okay and some weren’t.
An NCO or Officer should always have his subordinates welfare in mind 24/7.
...Yah... But the sauce was really good... Even the guy from Tennessee said it was the best he’d ever had. :-)
That’s the job. You don’t matter. They do. They’re the ones that do the heavy lifting.
Frankly, that’s the ethic I kept in my civilian career and it has served me well. As a department head, I see it as my first responsibility to be the arrow-catcher for my people.
A buddy of mine served on a PBR on the Mekong in 1968. (Take that, John Kerry.) He said they lived on C's while cruising.
He said one batch they got was left over from WW2. It wasn't any worse than their current stuff, except for the cigarettes (C's had cigarettes until the early 1970s). He said the cigarettes sparkled like a fuse.
Better clothes and better chow are a small investment to keep down the little gripes of the troops that can add up, over time, to a major beef. I had no real complaints in Basic, but I didn't have much to smile about, either. One afternoon, lunch on the rifle range had strawberry shortcake for desert. It was an unexpected surprise for me, and the only thing that would have made me happier that day would have been an honorable discharge, but that was still six years away.
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