Cook scrubing pots in an immersion heater

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Hospital Corpsmen Wise Up to Cook’s Tricks

By Steve Karoly

Hospital corpsmen have always been keen to the cook’s tricks.

In March 1987, the cooks of the 5th Naval Construction Regiment fed Seabees from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalions 2 and 18 at Camp Wilson on the sprawling Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base.

About midway through the two-week exercise, a master chief hospital corpsman arrived unannounced at the entrance to the large warehouse style building that served as the galley. In tow were two young hospital corpsmen.

They strolled over to the refrigerator and opened the door. The master chief tipped his cover on the back on his head and said, "Remember, each pan of food must be covered in the reefer; no exceptions."

Next they wondered through the spud locker. The master chief pointed out a thing or two: crates of lettuce stacked on the dirty deck, an opened jar a mayonnaise sitting out in the 120 degree heat and a mess cook using his sweaty hands to toss the coleslaw.

Finally the master chief led his students to the ubiquitous Edlund No. 1 can opener. He lifted it out of its base and brought it up to eye level. He carefully turned it with left hand and turned the handle in a clockwise motion.

With his closely cut fingernail, the master chief scraped chunks of black gunk off the can opener blade onto the concrete deck. A perfect breeding ground for bacteria, though the master chief.

He turned to his disciples. "Normally, you won’t find the can opener here, sitting in its base," said the master chief. "As soon as the cooks spy the corpsman, they grab the can opener and toss it into kitchen sink."

September 1999

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