FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- A large T-bone steak, a baked potato with sour cream, butter and chives, a fresh garden salad, five different dressings and a piece of devil's food cake, may be the dream meal Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit want when they are sweating and training in the field, but that meal is not on the menu here.
The chow hall may not be a five-star restaurant, but these cooks ensure that the leathernecks training receive the quality foods needed to accomplish their mission.
Battalion Landing Team 1/8, and MEU Service Support Group 26, provided 30 leathernecks who cooked approximately 1,300 portions per meal during the Fort A.P. Hill training evolution July 15 - Aug. 2.
"We are cooking more here than at Camp Lejeune, but preparing the food is a lot easier," said Cpl. Rodell Terry, MSSG 26 chief baker.
Cooking in the field is not new to all these Marines. The experienced Marines use their knowledge to teach the junior Marines how to effectively accomplish their mission.
"I started baking on ship," said Cpl. Corey Walker, chief baker for BLT 1/8, who was deployed with the 22nd MEU prior to coming to the 26th MEU. "A Navy cook taught me how to cook faster and more efficiently."
Walker in turn passes on those cooking skills to his Marines. He also teaches them how to get the job done with less, since they have to adapt to cooking without all the supplies they would have at the base chow halls.
In a regular chow hall, the cooks have large stoves, plenty of storage space and all the comforts of home. The field takes away nearly all their space, as well as putting the Marines in an unfamiliar environment. But according to Walker, adapting hasn't been too hard.
"Everyone works around us," Walker added. "Everyone needs to be fed, so when Marines are in the field, we ship their meals out to them."
During this training evolution, Marines of the 26th MEU were scattered all over Fort A.P. Hill. The chow hall ensured that they received two hot meals everyday so they could complete their training with the proper nourishment.
The Marines in the field may not get to eat that steak dinner but the chow hall Marines always ensured there was nutritional chow to keep them on the cutting edge.