PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION. Pa. --
It can be said that an apron is just a cape on backwards. But the Airmen who prep, cook and store food for hundreds of military men and women aren’t born into greatness, they’re trained.
Members of the 445th Force Support Squadron’s Food Services Flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio traveled 250 miles for their annual tour to the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania to prep, cook and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Master Sgt. Bryan Ulloa, 445th FSS food services operations manager, explained why such great lengths were taken to get the training needed.
“Services Airmen completed their annual tour at Pittsburgh ARS to accomplish home station training and sign off on key tasks. The Airmen were able to become qualified in upgrade training and complete their 5 level or 7 level tasks,” said Ulloa.
Since the 445th Services Food Flight is co-located with the active duty, they don’t get to use the kitchen at Wright-Patt AFB as a full kitchen.
“It’s not often we get the opportunity to be in an actual kitchen. A lot of the active-duty bases have transitioned to a more civilian workforce, and at this particular base, the unit actually owns the kitchen and it’s mostly military. Coming here, allows us to utilize the kitchen and operate in a way a reserve base would function,” said Ulloa.
To make sure all of his Airmen become subject matter experts, Ulloa pushes for them all to have that hands-on-training. He knows that while many think cooking food is just like whatever you do at home, there are vital steps that have to be taken by the heroes in the kitchen.
“One of the key things is that we strive to make sure is nobody gets sick, which is even more important if you are down range, because if one person gets sick it can potentially spread to the rest of the population and essentially stop the entire mission,” said Ulloa. “The intent of food service for the Air Force is quality of life. It’s a morale booster for the troops. As they say, ‘Troops move on their stomach.’”
Using another cook’s kitchen can potentially cause fires, but the 911th AW commander and former 445th Operations Group commander, Col. John Robinson, welcomed the partnership.
“It’s awesome to have reserve partners come in. The 445th has an opportunity to use their skills here at the 911th and the 911th gets the opportunity to have augmentation for our drill weekend,” Robinson said.
Robinson added, “Air Force Reserve Command is one big team. When you see people coming from different bases working together with our people, it’s always great to see that. They work together and provide support for each other. That’s what AFRC is about.” Capt. Danielle Daley, 911th Force Support Squadron operations officer and former readiness officer at the 445th FSS, echoed Robinson’s sentiment.
“That’s the nature of what we do as reservists. We just have an awesome opportunity to be able to create relationships with just any and everybody across the command. It’s definitely been a benefit to us here that we have a partnership with Wright-Patterson,” said Daley.
The leadership of the 911th AW was more than eager to help another reserve team accomplish their training. Lt. Col. Sabrina Ocampo, 911th FSS commander and former 445th Services Flight officer-in-charge says she knew the caliber of Airmen coming into her kitchen.
“I already have a history and background, and I know that Wright-Patt sent superstars, so I don’t have to even worry about it. I know they can run circles around this kitchen even though they don’t have kitchen experience back home,” said Ocampo. “I understand that the subject matter expert experience that they have they brought here.”