Mess Hall Marines keep Fightertown full

5 Dec 2008 | Cpl. Christopher Zahn

While most Marines and sailors are still dozing peacefully in the early hours of the morning, the day is just beginning for a certain group of Marines. That group of Marines is still working to take care of their fellow service members long after others have fallen into the welcome embrace of sleep. 

This special group of unsung Marines works diligently behind the scenes every day to provide their fellow warriors the basic necessities of food and water at the most important building aboard the Air Station for hungry people, the mess hall. 

“They provide all the food service responsibilities for the mess hall and the base,” said Gunnery Sgt. Emmanuel Walker, the mess hall liaison chief. “The actual preparing of the chow, my Marines do that. That’s the sub line, the main line, the specialty bar, the snack line - they do all of that.”

 The mess hall crew works on a two watch system. On a long day, a crew will come in around 7:30 a.m. and stay until the final meal of the day, usually getting off around 6:30 p.m. The next day they will come back to the mess hall in the early morning hours, getting there around 5 a.m. to prepare that morning’s breakfast. After breakfast is over they normally do classes and then secure for the day, according to Walker.

“Then it starts all over again the next day,” Walker continued. “They work basically 14 days straight before they get a weekend off. It’s hard, but that’s the nature of the beast and they understand that.”

Working such long hours and rarely getting to enjoy the same liberties can take a toll on the body and morale of a Marine.

“Sometimes it is hard because it can put a strain on your body,” said Cpl. Jarmon Ward, a cook. “Some of us are used to it and some of us aren’t.”

Despite all the negatives, it’s a job that the Marines who work there enjoy. They get to see firsthand the fruit of their efforts by merely stepping away from the kitchen into the dining area.

“I have a passion for cooking; I like cooking food,” said Sgt. Joseph Salazar, the chief cook. “I like seeing the reaction on people’s faces whether they like or dislike the product. I go out and ask them so that I can get feedback, but it just depends on whether I have time to come out to the mess deck and ask a few Marines whether they like it or not.”

The mess hall never closes and these Marines never stop working. So, the next time you are getting some quick chow before liberty, please rember to thank the cooks.