Feeding Hurlburt's Special Operators Requires a Special Brand of Food Service
By Staff Sgt. William J. Seabrook Jr.
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFPN) -- The nature of special operations requires a nontraditional approach to doing business, so it stands to reason that Hurlburt Field, Fla., would operate one of the most non-traditional food service programs in the Air Force.
The 16th Services Squadron flight kitchen stands ready to serve Hurlburt's special operators 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's the only flight kitchen in the Air Force to operate with such a schedule.
"Our main job is supporting the fliers with flight meals and the flightline workers with ground meals," said Staff Sgt. VaTempa Ivy, noncommissioned officer in charge, so we're here to make sure they get the nourishment they need to do their jobs properly."
The flight kitchen's main mission is feeding the people who are unable to meet the dining facility's traditional hours of service.
One of the more popular programs the flight kitchen runs is the "grab and go" concept of food service.
"Basically, if someone misses a meal at the dining hall, or just doesn't feel like a regular meal, they can come by and grab something on the way to their quarters," said Ivy. The food is a prepared meal, similar to a "TV" dinner, which can be heated in a microwave.
The kitchen isn't only popular with the base, but also with the staff that runs it.
"We get a lot more interaction with our guests here than in a regular dining facility," said Airman 1st Class Alisa Golemon, a flight kitchen specialist. "The kitchen is more like working in a sandwich shop than a cafeteria, because we get to deal directly with the people who are getting the food."
The staff also has a lot more responsibility at the flight kitchen than at the dining hall, according to Ivy. Everyone who works there has to be capable of running the operation completely, from taking orders and making the food, to keeping track of the inventory and ordering supplies.
"It's great training because in the dining facility we usually have one specific job," said Golemon. "In the flight kitchen we learn every facet of the operation and gain confidence in our ability to handle any contingency."
When asked what guests think is the best part of their operation, the staff has a quick answer -- the "Commando Cookie".
"The Commando Cookie, which is made from scratch in four flavors, is our signature item," Ivy explained. "Whenever there's some type of special mission going on, everybody has to have their cookie before they leave. During (Air Force Chief of Staff) Gen. (Michael E.) Ryan's visit here earlier this month, we received a comment from him that it was the best cookie he'd ever had."
"We strive for that level of guest satisfaction in everything we do," said Ivy. "We want Hurlburt's people to know that the next time they're required to deploy on short notice in the middle of the night, we'll do our best to make sure their food is the best it can be."
Air Force News, dated January 28, 1999.