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Archive for the ‘morale’ Category

8 Aug 07
by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
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SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) – To show their appreciation for other’s efforts and hard work, Airmen from the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing have been volunteering to serve food to the operations personnel at the base’s containerized deployable kitchen.

Chaplain (Capt.) Kevin Humphrey, 380th AEW chaplain has volunteered to serve food 10 times since he’s been deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “I used to work in food services before coming into the military and understand how difficult a job it is and how thankless, so I like to volunteer to let them know with my words and my actions that I genuinely appreciate what they bring to the fight,” he said.

The chaplain’s goal is to make the Airmen laugh. He will ask diners if they want “camel spider” or “deep fried dove” for their entree. “It is such a great way to quickly touch base with people and get a real pulse for the morale of the wing. I also enjoy trying to make them laugh and brightening their day.” He said that little things like a smiling face and a bright attitude can have a tremendous impact on someone’s day. Sometimes it seems people get so far removed from the direct mission of the wing; they forget what it is about, the chaplain said.

“All of us do our jobs to put planes in the air so we can put bombs on target or be the eyes in the sky; however, we forget when we do not venture over to the flightline what the true mission really is and we have a tendency to have a narrow perspective solely focused on what we do and not the mission as a whole,” Chaplain Humphrey said.

For Staff Sgt. John Geer, 380th AEW chaplain assistant, deployed here from Seymour Johnson, he volunteers because he likes helping people and is concerned about the morale and well-being of the Airmen.

“This opportunity gave me chance to have fellowship with those I don’t see as often as I would like,” said Sergeant Geer. Prior to being a chaplain’s assistant, he worked on the flightline with the B-52 Stratofortress. “I think it’s important to serve over there because it shows appreciation and improves relations. Sometimes it is hard to get help for yourself with anything that may be going on in your life because you’re concentrating on the mission and using the core value of service before self to stay late, skip meals, and so much more, that when someone can come out to you and lend a helping hand, and an open ear it means a lot,” Sergeant Geer said. The chaplain staff also delivers popsicles on the flightline.

For Capt. Michelle McKinney, 380th AEW financial management, deployed here from Scott AFB, Ill., volunteering her time keeps her humble. “I think it’s important to understand what some of the other career fields do on a daily basis, especially those that are often taken for granted,” she said. Although Airmen here work long hours every day doing their respective operations and responsibilities, they are also taking the time to serve those who serve — reiterating that Airmen can be wingmen at home and abroad.

Photo – Brig. Gen. Lawrence Wells, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, dishes up a meal for a diner Aug. 7 at the containerized deployable kitchen. The general and members of his staff served food at the CDK all week to show their appreciation for the hard work and efforts put in on the operational side of base. Photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Cook.

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31 July 07
By Sgt. Brandon Aird
173rd ABCT Public Affairs
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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team spent July 22-28 in Dangam district in Kunar province near the Pakistan border. The area is surrounded by lush farms that thrive from a stream flowing through the valley.

The Soldiers are from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), and they were in the area to help fortify the position of an Afghan National Police station and also to establish and reinforce observations posts with the Afghan National Army on nearby hilltops.

The OPs help monitor and stop Taliban extremist movement in the area. Red Platoon named the OPs after one Soldier’s mom, another’s daughter, Sandra and Haden respectively and famous TV stars:, Chuck Norris and Mr. T. “We thought of the baddest dudes we knew,” said Army Staff Sgt. David Benoit, a squad leader in Red Platoon. “Naming OPs like we do helps keep morale up.”

Even though the atmosphere in Red Platoon is a little laid back, the Soldiers take their jobs seriously. From OPs Norris and Mr. T, the platoon observed cross-border activity, called for and adjusted indirect fires, and engaged the enemy with direct fire.

“Our mission was to establish a joint security station in the Dangam area with the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army,” said Army 1st Lt. Jesus Rubio, Red Platoon leader. “We’re also out here to get situational awareness of the area and build friendships with the local leaders.”

The district center of Dangam is a sign of progress for the local ANP. The center has a store, mosque, police station and a school for girls and boys. It also has computers and internet capabilities.

Red Platoon has built up the area around the ANP station to better safeguard against attacks from Taliban extremists. The district center fortifications are just a small piece of the mission. The observation posts that Red Platoon maintains also help build cohesion between the Soldiers and the local populace. “We met the new Afghan Border Patrol commander while we were out at Mr. T,” said Benoit. “A local villager walked all the way up the mountain to tell us the whole valley was talking about us. Everyone was very excited we were up here, he told us.”

Another benefit of establishing OPs throughout the valley is the intelligence that was gathered. “We observed the bad guys moving on the mountain,” said Benoit. “We also got names of smugglers. We definitely laid the grounds for long-term relationships with the locals.”

Red Platoon is in the initial phase of helping build up the district center. Future joint operations will continue for the next 14 months that Red Platoon will be in Afghanistan.

Numerous times at OPs and at the district center, the local village elders would invite the Soldiers over to their houses for food and tea. “The Afghans treated us like kings at Mr. Ts,” said Benoit. “It was awesome.”

Photo – Paratroopers from Red Platoon, Charlie Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), navigate to Observation Post Chuck Norris July 25 in Dangam, Kunar province. Photo by Sgt. Brandon Aird.

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24 July 07
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
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COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq – It has been said that an Army runs on its stomach, and most Soldiers would agree.

Soldiers from the 15th Infantry Regiment’s 1st Battalion here rely on a five-member team to supply them with the culinary fuel they need to carry out their missions.

A typical day for the Soldier chefs starts at 4 a.m.

“Half of cooking is presentation,” said Pfc. Emril Getscher. “We try to make everything we do look good as well as taste good.”

After breakfast is served and the area is cleaned, the food-service team usually has a few hours before repeating the process for dinner. Their work finally ends around 9 p.m.

The team receives rations, supplies and supplements every few days from the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion’s Company F. Each meal comes with a menu and instructions.

Food sanitation is a large part of a cook’s job, and harsh conditions in Iraq – like dust – can make the job even harder, according to Staff Sgt. Russell Slouffman, senior NCO in charge of food service at COP Cleary. The conditions also make transporting and storing food difficult.

“One of the biggest problems is not getting the food and supplies we ask for… it’s the conditions,” said Staff Sgt. Slouffman. Ice cream, for example, is one of Soldiers’ biggest requests when the temperatures reach 120 degrees.

“But it would have to be transported on dry ice or in freezers. We just don’t have those capabilities,” he said.

Of the meals they do receive and prepare at the outpost, Staff Sgt. Slouffman and Pfc. Getscher agree that steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs are Soldiers’ favorites.

“When we cook hamburgers and hot dogs, everyone feels like they are at home,” Pfc. Getscher said. “We have the grill going, and we bring out chili and chips and it kind of brings us all back to the states.”

Despite the long days and challenges, the food service specialists say they love their work.

“And when people say thank you,” Pfc. Getscher said, “it makes it all worth it.”

“We are the No. 1 morale booster out here. When Soldiers get excited to eat something we cooked, I get excited,” added Staff Sgt. Slouffman. “It’s all about seeing the smiles on their faces when they come to chow.”

Photo – Pfc. Emril Getscher, a cook for the 15th Infantry Regiment’s 1st Battalion, serves mashed potatoes to Spc. Brendan Murphy, a medic at Combat Outpost Cleary, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Natalie Rostek.

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