June 25, 2005
By Pfc. Occoless Trotter
BLACKSTONE, Va. -- The 37th Annual Philip A. Connelly State Competition came to Headquarters Company, 29th Infantry Division’s Tactical Operations Center on June 19, to judge the mess section’s operations and proficiency.
It has been two years since the HHC has competed due to an attachment to 1st Brigade in 2003 and holding Annual Training in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. last year. Staff Sgt. Rebecca A. Beverly, food operations sergeant for HHC, said the challenge lies from the many minute details to keeping things simple.
“Connelly equates to nothing more than producing a meal to Army standards,” stated Beverly.
This was Sgt. Larissa M. Shepard’s first Connelly Competition. Shepard, 1st cook with HHC, stated some of the preparation for the competition included organizing menu cards and making sure storage was up to standard.
“I just want to make our section look good,” Shepard said.
Sgt. Maj. Leslie Falls, a judge for the Connelly Competition, considers the competition “the best and only training a food service person could get.” Falls, who has spent a total of 20 years competing in, and 15 years judging the Connelly Competition, explained that the evaluation process comes with built in help for the section by pointing out needs for improvement.
Beverly credited her team: Staff Sgt. Jamey Jones, Shepard and Spc. Karen L. Watts-Green for the efficiency of her kitchen and also gave recognition to the many soldiers who were assigned to kitchen police duty to ease the load of dishwashing, trash removal and replenishing water for the kitchen staff.
“We can’t do it all by ourselves,” Beverly remarked.
Beverly and her staff avoided getting intimidated by keeping to their routines. “You don’t get excited,” Beverly explained. “You just prepare your meal the way you normally do and let them watch.” Beverly was humble when it came to the sections and hoped they win the competition; yet she tried to keep her perspective about what’s important: the nourishment of the soldier. She simply said winning is recognition among the mess sections.
Shepard was quite confident in her section and their ability. “We’re great!” she exclaimed. “We know what we’re doing.”
Beverly remained humble to the end about the competition and the thought of winning. “Its an incredible honor,” she said. “But if you’re doing your job, you do it every day.”