CAMP RAVENNA JOINT MILITARY TRAINING CENTER, Ohio (10/19/12) — The 212th Maintenance (Support) Company, out of Medina, Ohio, competed in the 45th annual Phillip A. Connelly Awards competition June 13. Following the unit's evaluation, the 212th SMC was named a Region IV finalist and now is competing Saturday, Oct. 19 at the national level in the Field Kitchen Category.
The Connelly Awards is an Army food service competition designed to improve professionalism and provide recognition to food service personnel within the Department of the Army.
The 212th, representing Ohio after a May evaluation, vied for a Region IV title June 13 and the right to move on to the DA-level National Guard award category competition, comprising all 54 states and U.S. territories, Oct. 19 at Camp Ravenna.
Last June, in a wooded bivouac environment, three Soldiers (two cooks fresh from Advanced Individual Training and one cross-trained cook) worked in a Mobilized Kitchen Trailer, while others supported their efforts with an active sanitation tent, rations tent, dining tent, garbage pi, and five perimeter security points.
MKTs, which can be towed by several types of military tactical vehicles, are designed for use in combat zones and disaster areas.
“If you were operating in a war zone without forward operating bases, you would set up security points and check points all around the MKT,” said Pvt. Joshua Lampley, a food specialist for the 212th, and a Tallmadge, Ohio, native.
Col. Mark J. Cappone, Ohio Army National Guard deputy chief of staff for logistics, told members of the 212th that they will potentially find themselves in a combat environment feeding Soldiers.
“When it comes to the food service profession, we can speculate, but contracted meals, if you haven't heard lately the money's starting to get thinner,” Cappone said. “We'’re going to go back to what we probably should have been doing all along, and that’s letting our Soldiers practice their crafts that they've trained on.”
Army cooks are relevant, Cappone said.
The Connelly Awards evaluators (contractors from Bowhead Eagle) said the 212th did a super job operating the site. The evaluators, often retired master sergeants, sergeants major and warrant officers who have been in food service for many years, don't just test the food. They visit with and quiz Soldiers, looking at everything from the sanitation tents to the fox holes.
Brig. Gen. Maria E. Kelly, deputy assistant adjutant general for Army, Ohio National Guard, said she was proud of the 212th and most impressed that the unit is only about 3-years old. Kelly said the unit has far exceeded just building a ready unit.
“The 212th has accomplished so much and these lessons go so far beyond feeding your unit; they apply to everything you do when you go back to your company, the way you train, the way you lead and the way you grow to become leaders,” Kelly said.
For many from the 212th, the Connelly Awards was a first, a growing experience.
“I think that being thrown into this Connelly competition at such a young military age was fantastic,” said Pvt. Craig Lazenby, a 212th food service specialist from Waterville, Ohio. “We all got experience, and it brought us together as a team. We learned so much about the MKT, field cooking and food service.”