USS CARTER HALL, At sea --
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the field is expected to be self-supporting. Power, water, fuel, and living arrangements. At the end of the day, the most important part of sustainment for the individual Marine is chow.
“One thing I always noticed while I was watching movies growing up is the soldiers, Marines, sailors, whatever, always complaining about chow. Where I come from, food is a huge family tradition. So I figured, since I already knew how to cook, I could make a difference,” said Sgt. Jonathan Deletorre, food service specialist noncommissioned officer in charge from Union City, N.J. Deletorre, assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is one of the Marines that make a hot meal possible for the Marines and sailors in the field.
Food service is a necessarily complex operation. Field operations for the MEU can range in size from a company – a few hundred Marines – to the full strength of the MEU – more than 2,200 Marines and sailors of all stripes, all working long hours in what tends to be less than auspicious conditions.
“It isn’t that easy. Things can get pretty challenging sometimes,” said Lance Cpl. Alejandro Sanchez, food service specialist from Salinas, Calif. “It’s kind of fun. Seeing everyone get their chow – seeing smiles. It’s pretty satisfying.”
Marines in the field without support from the food service Marines eat Meals, Ready-to-Eat.
“MREs provide the nutrition and sustenance my body needs to accomplish the mission while in the field. And they last forever,” said Cpl. Austin Bedwell, intelligence specialist from Couer D’alene, Idaho. However, it is not quite as satisfying as a hot meal and produce from the food service Marines.
“The field mess Marines, working on limited resources, put forth a great effort to put variety in my food,” said Bedwell. “Some of the things they provide, like pop-tarts and Gatorade packets, really make my day.”
“It’s very fast paced, and you have to know what you’re doing,” said Deletorre. “Our communication has to be tight. Our equipment cooks 250 portions at a time and you never want to go over, but you never ever want to go under.”
When Marines are aboard the ships of an amphibious ready group, food service specialists also reinforce the sailors assigned to those vessels to help serve the increased personnel aboard.
These Marines aim to keep the Marines and sailors of the 26th MEU fed for the remainder of their deployment, no matter what missions may be ahead.