• September 16, 2014

Hot chow, cold grunts; a recipe for morale

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 4:30 am

HOHENFELS, Germany — Thirty tons of steel, ammunition and soldiers from Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, waited in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle for a resupply convoy atop the lush, green German countryside. Marble-sized rain droplets fell from the grizzly skies, and a sliver of sunlight peeked through at 9:03 p.m.

It was Memorial Day.

For Americans at home, it was a day of barbecue and beer; but for the soldiers of Alpha Company, it was another 24 hours of skirmishes as part of their second week of field maneuvers at exercise Combined Resolve II. The U.S. Army Europe-led training event includes more than 4,000 soldiers from 15 NATO and partner nations.

Tanks and heavy trucks turned the grassy knoll into a web of muddy tracks. First Lt. Jonathan Shelton was in the center of the brown clay.

“When the weather turns and the rain hits, morale gets low,” said Shelton.

Bradley commander Sgt. Jovan Galindez said, “It’s wet, slippery and muddy. We got our (Bradley) stuck and had to get towed already.”

“We’re out here, tracks slipping and sliding,” said Bradley gunner, Spc. Brian Hill, as he signaled for Galindez to drive their vehicle through mud.

“It really gives me a new level of respect for those guys who fought on tracks, on these same grounds in World War II.”

Under the protection of armor-clad gun trucks, the supply convoy operated by the 115th Brigade Support Battalion and 16th Sustainment Brigade soldiers snaked into the middle of the company’s formation with fuel for the tanks, water to cool the fighting and food for the troops.

One by one, the Bradleys’ armored hatches opened, and the soldiers discovered a group of military cooks from the convoy uncovering a line of steaming-hot food.

“We had (eaten MREs) for nine days straight, and it was the first warm meal that we had. Most of the guys didn’t know hot chow was coming,” Shelton said.

“We all just ran towards it,” said Galindez. “As soon as we saw the drinks and cakes, it was on. It gives you the biggest smiles on your faces, especially when you know it’s spaghetti and meatballs.”

“This is what we do; we feed the force,” said Sgt. Carl Richardson, a cook from the 115th Brigade Support Battalion.

“There’s a lot of preparation involved in these food deliveries, but I’d rather be out here in the field doing this,” said Pvt. Jesse Frey, a battalion cook.

“It’s been great experience working with 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division,” said Sgt. Jedidiah Case, a 16th Sustainment Brigade cook who normally works at the 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion’s dining facility.

“We’ve coordinated missions together to push these meals for troops’ morale,” Case said.

Dark skies overtook the dreary scene and the resupply convoy left as the sound of creaking tracks migrated into the woods.

With full stomachs and fresh supplies, the soldiers of Alpha Company navigated under the green haze of their night vision devices to prepare for the next day’s battle.

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