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Cooking for the field

Airmen with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, receive dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. Force Support Squadron services specialists provided meal support to the unit members while they built veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

Airmen with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, receive dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. Force Support Squadron services specialists provided meal support to the unit members while they built veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Starlyn Stratton, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, prepares manicotti for dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. She and seven other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Starlyn Stratton, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, prepares manicotti for dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. She and seven other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Elsey, a water and fuel systems maintenance specialist with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, gets manicotti and meatballs for dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. Force Support Squadron services specialists provided meal support to the squadron’s unit members while they built veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Elsey, a water and fuel systems maintenance specialist with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, gets manicotti and meatballs for dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. Force Support Squadron services specialists provided meal support to the squadron’s unit members while they built veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dolly Diefendorf, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, prepares scrambled eggs in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. She and seven other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dolly Diefendorf, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, prepares scrambled eggs in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. She and seven other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Montana Fleissner, left, a services specialist with the 107th Force Support Squadron, New York Air National Guard, and Senior Airman Maya Houston, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, serve dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. They and six other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Montana Fleissner, left, a services specialist with the 107th Force Support Squadron, New York Air National Guard, and Senior Airman Maya Houston, a services specialist with the 182nd Force Support Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, serve dinner in Crow Agency, Mont., Aug. 1, 2017. They and six other services specialists provided meal support to 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron Airmen building veterans’ homes for the Innovative Readiness Training program. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

CROW AGENCY, Mont. --

How many MREs did it take to feed 47 military members for two weeks in field conditions? Zero, because services specialists from the 182nd Force Support Squadron were there to feed them.

When the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron departed their Illinois Air National Guard base to build veteran’s houses in the middle of the rural Crow Reservation, Montana, they brought with them six Airmen armed with an on-site mobile kitchen and a mission to serve.

The result was fresh-cooked meals and many full bellies, which supported the construction operations.

“If you’re hungry, you’re angry, and you don’t want to work. Good food keeps you happy,” said Senior Airman Douglas Curlee, a water and fuel systems maintenance specialist with the 182nd Civil Engineer Squadron.

Having hot food and fresh sandwiches in the field was a big change for the three Montana Army National Guard concrete and masonry specialists augmenting the squadron, said Army Staff Sgt. Stevn Henken of the 230th Vertical Engineer Company.

“The morale of my guys has been way better with fresh food. It gets them going in the morning, fresh coffee made every day,” he said. “[Services specialists] put in a lot of hard work, and it shows with our meals.”

The services team ran their operation out of a Disaster Relief Mobile Kitchen Trailer, or DMRKT.

“You can do just about anything you can do on base in this kitchen,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Leigh, a training manager with the 120th Force Support Squadron, Montana Air National Guard. “We’ve got two full ovens, flattop grill, a stockpot station, a three-compartment sink and then a tray ration heater which can also double as making pasta or boiling water, or whatever else you need it for.”

No equipment could add up to the hardworking services Airmen, however, whose duty day overshadowed the rest at the Innovative Readiness Training program’s construction site.

Both Curlee and Henken said they wished to extend a “thank you” to the services team.

“You know, they work long hours. A lot of people don’t know it that they wake up probably before us, they stay after,” said Curlee. “When we’re in our civilian clothes, they’re still feeding us dinner.”

The Airmen and soldiers’ two-week rotation to the Montana Crow Tribe Housing 2017 site is scheduled to conclude Aug. 6. More information on the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training civil-military relations program can be found at http://irt.defense.gov.