By Capt. Timothy Brooke
FORT PICKETT, Va. -- D Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Virginia Army National Guard from Portsmouth, Va. competed in the regional Connelly Competition for excellence in Army National Guard Food Service on June 17, 2006.
As state champions, D Company is competing against other Army National Guard Food Service Teams from Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, and the Virgin Islands for a chance to compete in the national finals. The Connelly Award is named after Philip A. Connelly, recognized for his contributions to the career field of food service.
D Company’s Food Service Team is led by 1st Lt. Ronald Gilbar and Sgt. 1st. Class Ernest Smith, Jr. The competition is evaluated based on training, administration, accounting, storage, command support, servings, site layout, equipment, food preparation, diner satisfaction, safety, sanitation, pride, and professionalism. Benefits of the competition for the Virginia Army National Guard include better training for food service personnel, improved morale, readiness, and retention for all soldiers.
Food service is the type of job in the Army that if you do your job, nobody takes much notice, if you don’t do your job, then everybody notices. When asked what the competition meant to him and his soldiers, Gilbar stated “They realize food is a morale booster. Soldiers work really hard to provide top quality food for the Soldier.”
When asked the same question, Smith stated that in 26 years of service this was one of the few times he had the opportunity to compete at this level.
The competition is evaluated by Bowhead Eagle. Bowhead Eagle employs retired food service personnel as evaluators. This year all competing units will prepare the same menu of beef stroganoff, tomato rice soup, noodles, carrots, spring salad, pineapple up-side down cake, assorted breads, available beverages, and appropriate condiments.