MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- The blistering cold radiated through Marine Wing Support Squadron 274’s expedient field kitchen, as food service specialists battled against time to prepare a three-course meal as they competed in the Maj. Gen. William Pendleton Thompson Hill Award at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Jan. 20.
Since the establishment of the award in 1985, service members have been recognized for their excellence in food service operations.
“We compete for this award every year,” said Staff Sgt. Owen Bailey, a food service specialist with MWSS-274. “We won the award for 2015 and now we are competing for 2016.”
As with any conflict, there is a resolution, and for MWSS-274 winning the W. P. T. Hill award for another consecutive year will be an outstanding accomplishment after battling the North Carolina climate, explained Bailey.
MWSS-274 won the W. P. T. Hill Best Field Mess award in 2015. Last year’s inspection was held at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue.
“As we were preparing, we were fighting against the elements, but that’s why we are the best branch within the armed forces because we accomplish the mission in any clime and place,” said Bailey.
During the inspection, some of the areas the judges critiqued was food production, level of sanitation and cash collection. The Marines spent more than 10 days preparing for the inspection, which tests their ability to pay attention to detail, utilize self-management skills and maintenance for the upkeep of the field environment to include the kitchen.
While the purpose of the event was to win the award, the Marines were also developing themselves to embody the whole Marine concept, said Bailey. The Marines conducted maintenance to keep the mess tent operational and they provided themselves with hot water for sanitation and cooking.
“Despite having power outages in the beginning stages of preparation, we were able to get the food out fast,” said Lance Cpl. Christina Carmona, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “We have worked hard and we are constantly improving.”
The Marines are scheduled to travel to Chicago in May to represent the squadron in the competition in hopes of winning the Maj. Gen. W. P. T. Hill award for another year.