429th wins national award

by Rhonda Cox
Staff Writer
The Staunton Daily News Leader

Last year the food service unit of the 429th Forward Support Battalion cooked its way to a national victory. In April of this year, they, along with units of the Active Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, were nationally recognized for their efforts.

The 429th received the 32nd Annual Philip A. Connelly Food Service Award at the first Joint Services Excellence in Food Service Awards banquet sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association.

"What you give to our forces, no one else can give," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John M. McDuffie during the banquet dinner. "You sustain us. You build morale. There is no greater good than being sure that happens. You are the ones that make it happen."

More than 1,000 military personnel, IFSEA representatives, and guests filled the Hyatt Regency O'Hare for the banquet. The 429th team, under the leadership of Sgt. First Class Danny Leslie of Staunton, was awarded the Connelly after being scored by a trio of evaluators at Fort A.P. Hill in November of last year.

"It was a very tight competition," said Sgt. Maj. Theresa Sublett, part of the evaluation team. "The runners-up only lost by two points. It was a very tough decision. If they win this competition, they've earned it."

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Roger De Witz, another member of the evaluation team, said the 429th was "the best of the best."

"They did their job. They did everything they were supposed to do, and they did it by the book," he said.
The 429th beat out six other regional winners to be named Connelly's best field service unit. Their win was the pinnacle of a year and a half of competition by the food service unit.

They first competed against other Guard units in the state, then took on states from Maryland to Maine in a regional competition.

Their kitchen was a pop-up trailer, and they cooked on burners fueled by gasoline.

The 429th was one of the five units receiving the Connelly trophy. In addition to the Army National Guard Field Kitchen category, other divisions of competition included Large Dining Facility, Small Dining Facility, Active Army Field Kitchen and Army Reserve Field Kitchen.