Herald/DAVID MORRIS - Louis Gossett Jr. gives his film crew an extra clip as he sticks his tongue out during a shoot Thursday morning at Dodge Country in Killeen, while making a documentary film visit to Fort Hood during an “Salute to Our Heroes” event.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – The 13th Sustainment Command's 15th Sustainment Brigade joined the post's theme of "Salute to Soldiers" on Thursday with an awards ceremony and special lunch at the Freeman Dining Facility.

The event was open to soldiers and their families to honor them for their everyday hard work and sacrifices, according to information from the command.

The ceremony also marked the official transition of the facility from the 1st Medical Brigade to 15th Sustainment. The dining facility was run by the command's 4th Sustainment Brigade, but that unit deployed to the Middle East before 15th Sustainment soldiers could take control of the building, so 1st Medical soldiers stepped in.

The Army's operational tempo affects everyone, said Lt. Col. Paula Lodi, 15th Sustainment Brigade Troops Battalion commander.

"It has impacted both soldiers' lives and the way we do business," she said. "The way we've managed and rotated leadership for the dining facility illustrates the team effort required among all the major commands within 13th Sustainment Command to achieve mission success."

The primary focus must always be on the soldier, Lodi added.

The event represented everything that is best about 13th Sustainment, said Col. Larry Phelps, 15th Sustainment commander. He agreed that the focus should be on the troops.

Thursday's event wasn't a reopening, but a transfer of authority, so leaders struggled for a theme, she went on to say. Synchronizing the ceremony with today's "Salute to Our Heroes" event at Hood Stadium "seemed more than appropriate," she said.

Freeman Dining Facility was named for Master Sgt. Jackie Douglass Freeman, a food service adviser for the then-13th Corps Support Command from 1971 to 1975. Freeman was killed in an aircraft accident on April 26, 1975, according to information from the command. Freeman's grandson, Joshua, currently works at the dining facility.

The dining facility got a few updates for the transfer of authority, including a sports theme that features jerseys from Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Killeen, Shoemaker and Ellison high schools. Members of the 1st Cavalry Division's jazz band played during the lunch hour on Thursday and a jazz festival is planned for April 24 at the dining facility.

The brigade also recognized its Culinary Soldier of the Quarter board winners at the ceremony. Those soldiers were Spc. Brandon Stokes of 15th Sustainment, Pfc. John Samudio of 1st Medical, Spc. Jenny Hernandez of the 48th Chemical Brigade and Spc. Mellita McCullen of the 3rd Signal Brigade. McCullen was named the winner.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at astair@kdhnews.com or call (254) 501-7547.

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