CAMP RILEA, Ore. – The Oregon Army National Guard’s 1249th Alpha Forward Support Company participated in the final stage of the 41st Phillip A. Connelly Awards Competition, Army National Guard Field Kitchen component, Oct. 18, at Camp Rilea, Ore.

Winning the state and regional competition levels placed the FSC team in the running for the national title. They are competing against six other National Guard regions in the field kitchen component for excellence in Army Food Service.

It has been seven years since a section has competed in the competition and three years since the 1249th have cooked in a field kitchen environment, said Sgt. 1st Class Harry Morrison, section sergeant. “We are competing against people that have done it before.”

Cooks and kitchen staff worked together to make meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, herbed green beans, pepper pot soup, jalapeno corn bread with cheese, salad and apple-crisp, the required menu for the competition.

The team was evaluated on ten categories in the food preparation process including quality, administration, operations, field sanitation, kitchen site selection and security.

“The main focus is force protection: food safety, sanitation, keeping everything safe for the Soldiers,” said Master Sgt. Derek S. Rivers, evaluator and the senior food operations management noncomissioned officer for the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence at Fort Lee.

Food quality, safety and competition anxiety were not the only issues the team experienced. An unexpected power outage added to the stress.

“Anytime you are cooking for a bunch of people, in the wilderness, with equipment that goes on and off, is tough,” said Rivers.

As the meal was served, comments from the Soldiers were only positive.

“The meatloaf is to die for,” said Pfc. Christopher Deckert, a 1249th track-vehicle repairman.

The section was awarded a Certificate of Recognition from Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School commanding general, for their outstanding performance and a Certificate of Merit from the International Food Service Executive Association.

“The main thing is making sure the Soldiers are fed: food when they need it and as much as they want,” said baker Spc. Kevvin Kilbreath. “The competition is something for us.”