Services Airmen dish up real meals ready to eat
by Senior Airman Joel Mease 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/3/2007 - NAVAL AIR ENGINEERING STATION LAKEHURST, N.J. (AFNEWS) -- Some Airmen might not think a fresh, hot meal is a
big deal, but for Airmen at a bare base a meal not named "MRE" can bring a few happy and hungry faces to the dinner table.

When servicemembers arrive at a bare-base location, the first food eaten is usually meals ready to eat, or MREs.

That's when the role of the Air Force services team deployed to Air Force Exercise Eagle Flag comes in to play. After the initial base
infrastructure is built up, the services team is able to set up a field kitchen, said 1st Lt. Darryl Hebert, 2nd Services Squadron
services officer from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., who deployed to Eagle Flag 07-4 which ran from April 16 to 26.

Eagle Flag is an exercise that tests and trains Airmen in a bare-base environment of which more than 30 services members deploy
to each exercise.

When services Airmen deploy to Eagle Flag, they receive training to set up and feed several hundred people using a field kitchen
called the single pallet expeditionary kitchen, or SPEK, said Tech. Sgt. Roy Johnson, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center's 421st
Combat Training Squadron's lead services instructor.

"Services members receive more than just services-related training when they come to Eagle Flag," Sergeant Johnson said. "In
addition to a special two-hour block of training on the introduction and set up of the SPEK, they attend training for defensive
operations, field craft, cross cultural communication, and training on setting up a small Alaskan shelter system."

Sergeant Johnson said during the two-hour class on the SPEK, which has the largest impact on Eagle Flag students, involves an
initial briefing and then out to the field where they will actually set up the expeditionary kitchen.

"For the service Airmen who have experience with the SPEK, the class serves mostly as a refresher course," Sergeant Johnson
said. "However, for those services Airmen who have never seen or set it up, this class allows them to get familiar with the SPEK and
gain that experience in building it. The version we use for Eagle Flag - the container SPEK, is also different than they may see at
their home station - usually the palletized SPEK.

The SPEK uses utilized group rations, or UGRs, which allows for the ability to support 1,600 people in just one pallet, Lieutenant
Hebert said.

"A UGR is like a big MRE, but the big difference is it gets served with a plate, knife, fork and you get it hot to begin with," said Tech.
Sgt. Johnny Lasswell, services craftsman from the 377th Services Squadron, Kirtland AFB, N.M., who also deployed to Eagle Flag
07-4. "The UGRs include 14 different menus that support both breakfast and dinner. Items like beef enchiladas, scrambled eggs,
sausage links and spaghetti along with coffee and fruit drinks are what Airmen can expect when visiting a field kitchen."

The smaller field kitchens used at bare base operations however, are only meant to be temporary, Sergeant Lasswell added.

"Usually after 30 days a larger kitchen is built and can support three meals a day and approximately 1,100 people," Sergeant
Lasswell said. "The field kitchen used during Eagle Flag is smaller and can only support two meals a day and around 500 people."

A lot of hard work and preparation goes into first building the dining tent and kitchen area, along with multiple hours to cook the
food. However, Sergeant Lasswell says the effort is well worth his time during Eagle Flag.

"I particularly like when we get a field kitchen running, because ultimately the military runs on its stomachs," Sergeant Lasswell said.
"I enjoy feeding the Airmen, even if it means I have to wake up at 3 a.m. for a 5 a.m breakfast. That's what it's all about, because in
the end Airmen are less productive without a full meal."
Lieutenant Hebert agrees with the sergeant's assessment.

"For me it's the experience to finally sit down with a plate, fork and knife and finally enjoy a real meal -- whether I'm on a real-world
deployment or at Eagle Flag," Lieutenant Hebert said.

(Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
Fort Dix, N.J., contributed to this story)
Services Airmen deployed to Air Force exercise Eagle Flag 07-4
serve up food to exercise participants April 25 during an evening
meal at Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst, N.J. Services
members prepared the food in the Single Pallet Expeditionary
Kitchen, or SPEK. During each Eagle Flag exercise, more than 30
services Airmen deploy to support the exercise operated by the Air
Force Expeditionary Center's 421st Combat Training Squadron. (U.S.
Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jared Marquis)  
Senior Airman Joanna Houston works in the Single Pallet
Expeditionary Kitchen, or SPEK, preparing hot meals during
operations for Air Force Exercise Eagle Flag 07-1 on Oct. 17, 2006
at Naval Air Engineering Station at Lakehurst, N.J. Airman Houston,
along with 30 other services Airmen deploy to each Eagle Flag to set
up and use the SPEK where they also receive extra training on the
expeditionary kitchen. Eagle Flag is operated by the U.S. Air Force
Expeditionary Center's 421st Combat Training Squadron. Airman
Houston is a services journeyman from the 5th Services Squadron, at
Minot Air Force Base, N.D. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott T.
Sturkol)