Army Chow- Just in time for the holidays

Old AF Sarge has a post up at his place musing over the best and worst of dining in an Air Force chow hall.

Meals in basic training were…. rapid. You didn’t have time to taste them. But the burping the rest of the day let you know what it was you had wolfed down. Not bad meals. Just not really a great environment to enjoy them. We did have Thanksgiving during my cycle, and my mom and an aunt and uncle were able to join me.  As usual, the Army does a fine job of putting on a traditional turkey dinner.

My unit mess in Hawaii seemed to be… poorly staffed. Breakfast was always good. It’s pretty identical throughout the Army. But lunch and dinner, while occasionally good, were usually just serviceable.

I was on three different posts in Germany. The first was excellent, the second was very good, and I simply cannot recall the third. Seriously, I’m drawing a blank on where it was, or what it was like.

You see, about halfway through my tour in Germany, I was assigned as a driver for the brigade XO. And the XO doesn’t plan his day around my ability to eat in the mess hall. So onto BAS I went. I could eat in the mess hall when feasible. Or failing that, I was expected to eat on the economy. Even after I left that job, I simply stayed on BAS the rest of my time in the Army. I still ate in the mess hall often. I simply paid cash.

Worst mess hall experience? TDY to Fort Benning for a couple months. We were billeted well away from any mess hall. And the school hours precluded us from actually eating in a mess hall. But the byzantine regulations that cover feeding and pay said that technically a mess hall was available, so we didn’t get any extra money. BAS hardly covers eating out for an entire month. There was at least a decent food court near our billets. For lunch, the instructors for the course set up a grill and made burgers for a buck a pop. Two or three burgers, and a quick trip to the vending machine for a couple bottles of YooHoo! were lunch.

Not exactly a mess hall, but ABN-AMRO/LaSalle Bank in Chicago had a cafeteria in the basement of their offices. And it was fantastic. And the members cafeteria of the Chicago Board Options Exchange had a monthly prime rib for about $7. A slap of nearly raw beef the size of a dinner plate! 

What’s your fond memories? Good mess halls? Bad college meal plans?

5 thoughts on “Army Chow- Just in time for the holidays”

  1. Easy…the Mess Section of CO G 143D INF (LRS) TXARNG. Thanks SFC Ernesto Garza, SSG Everette, SSG Harper, SPC Maza, SPC Paul. These guys were up at the usual o dark thirty hous “spoons” keep PLUS when the teams would come back in from the field the Mess Section would be up churning out “Joe” and sandwiches in copious amounts. Nothing says good like a crisp, crunch of a salad in the middle of BFE! Best part…they held “p”duty positions so they jumped, and they loved to jump. They weren’t much to look at, and their berets were once too often used as pot holders and/or wipes for spilled cooking oils but by god they believed in doing their job and all while maintaining 80% in each event of the APFT (unit standard). Thanks “Nesto”, “Lucky”, “Henry”, Maza et. al. you made a portion of my career GREAT!!!

  2. I never really minded chow hall food, and occasionally it was very good, it was cheap and filling and if you couldn’t find what you wanted you could always just get a couple burgers. The best breakfast I ever had was out of a MKT at 29 Palms (they must put the palm trees somewhere else) . We had a railhead detail for our NTC rotation. Long work days but the cooks were some sort of a reserve unit who were apparently thrilled to get a break from their day jobs and worked hard to make the food as well as they could. Ok so it was just eggs bacon and potatoes but they did ’em good damn it!

  3. Army breakfast is always awesome. Save the coffee. Especially the field kitchen coffee. That stuff is vile, and only tolerable in cold weather. Every older NCO I had always had a method of brewing their own in the field.

  4. A couple of quick stories…

    When I was a lieutenant the mess teams still belonged to the rifle companies. It was awesome to walk through an MKT-75 on a snowy day in Germany and get eggs to order. We were doubly lucky because our asst mess sergeant/night baker had been on a winning Connolly mess team on his previous assignment. And the coffee was ALWAYS good.

    When I was company XO we spent Thanksgiving in the field…about 150 kms away from our Kaserne. And we had the exact same dinner the troops had in the mess hall….right down to the little paper cups of nuts. CG & BN CDR came out to serve on the mess line. We had borrowed 3 GP larges set up from the support battalion to eat. It was one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals.

    Later when I was a support platoon leader the MTOE changed and the mess sections moved under the support platoon. The cooks ALWAYS busted their ass to provide the best chow that they could. The troops never bitched in field or garrison. And the food was always excellent in our battalion DINFAC…ate many meals there.

    When I was a brigade S4 we had a pretty good brigade DINFAC. But we were cursed with the cutover to T-Rations and the reduction of our mess teams. As much as they tried the cooks couldn’t do a whole bunch with the T-Rations. We had a real morale problem across the board…the troops because of crappy chow and the cooks because they felt they were not doing their job. Had a few steak & lobster cook outs in the field to help things out. Non-tactical as hell but the troops loved it.

  5. Must be nice to have had a Connolly winner….damn it. Actually I can just see that T-Giving meal in those GP Larges but WTF is a DINFAC???? I know I’m just pulling the leg…I’m just an old chow/chow hall soldier. I remarked to my dear Sister today while I was making Buttermilk Pies that I would be grateful to not have Turkey that had sand, rain, mud, or served lukewarm. I remarked the gratefulness how pretty much wherever, Uncle Sam got his troops as close to a family style turkey dinner on T-Day as possible even if out of MERMITE cans (I’m dating myself). Happy Thanksgiving fellow service members….to absent friends and comrades whose last Thanksgiving was decades ago….Bless you all. Regards

Comments are closed.