Nov. 9, 2007

1032nd Soldiers cook their way to Connelly finals

Sgt. Vincent Woodmancy of the 1032nd Transportation Company serves up a meal during the Connelly cooking competition Sept. 29 at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Ask any Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine what keeps them going when the going gets tough and undoubtedly “chow” will rank right near the top. No one knows this better than the food service personnel of the 1032nd Transportation Company of Gate City who came away with top honors for area 4 in the Phillip A. Connelly Cooking Competition after besting West Virginia in the regional finals earlier this year. 

This placed them in the running for the national title with seven other states. But as the saying goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected,” which was  precisely the view of the evaluators who came to Fort Pickett on Sept. 29 on their first of seven stops to ultimately decide which unit will win the national title.

“We look for a variety of things, from sanitation to Soldier satisfaction. Ultimately the goal is to identify those units who are covering all the bases and doing things right,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Green, an evaluator from the Army Center of Excellence and Subsistence at Fort Lee. “But it all boils down to how Soldiers respond.”

The Connelly program is named in honor of Philip A. Connelly, past president of the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA), highly regarded as the driving force behind obtaining IFSEA sponsorship for the Department of the Army’s recognition of excellence in Army food service.   

The program is co-sponsored by the Department of the Army and IFSEA. Finalists are evaluated in one of five categories - Small Garrison, Large Garrison, and field kitchens in the Active Army, U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

A Soldier shows off his meal of pork chops with a cajun sauce, rice and beans, corn, salad, Texas toast and a cookie prepared by cooks from te 1032nd Trans. Co. as part of the 2007 Connelly competition. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The U.S. Army Center of Excellence and Subsistence (ACES) at Fort Lee and IFSEA evaluators travel around the world to obtain first-hand knowledge of how Army food service personnel perform their jobs.  All the finalists are evaluated in a number of areas including food preparation, taste, nutrition, service and sanitation.

Green said that the 1032nd can be proud of what they’ve accomplished. The competition is very tough.

“Units generally prepare a year out for the Connelly which makes the event very competitive,” he said. “By making it to the finals, Virginia has proven that they know a little something about cooking in the field.”

First Cook Sgt. Vince Woodmancy seemed to make it all look easy as he prepared for the noon serving time. He and his crew worked succinctly, as if on a production line, putting the finishing touches on what proved to be an outstanding presentation and, according to the Soldiers, a very tasty meal.

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