Two Quartermaster Center and School employees with more than 90 years of combined service to the U.S. government were honored June 7 at Mifflin Hall.
Brig. Gen. Mark A. Bellini, commanding general, QMC&S, was on hand to present Richard A. Harsh and Hazel T. Hill Jr. with their 45-year pins during a routine staff call.
Harsh, a retired chief warrant officer 3, began his government service as an Army cook in 1960. He retired from the Army in 1985 after 24 years, worked one year in private industry and later joined the now-defunct U.S. Army Troop Support Agency. He currently works as a supply systems analyst for the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence.
“I’d describe my time as one hell of a ride,” said the 63-year-old native of Sharon, Pa., said. “It’s been a great career for me.”
With the exception of one year, Harsh spent his entire career in Army food service. He said his time has been marked by constant change.
“We talk today about Army transformation and the new Army of the future; well, food service has been in a state of constant transformation since 1960,” he said.
Harsh said there have been many developments in food service over the years that have made an impact on current practices and operations. None, he said, was more important than the Prime Vendor Program.
“While that program has experienced growing pains like any other, it brought Soldiers across the world a much wider variety of subsistence than they ever had before,” he said. “It has also provided them fresher products than they ever had before and a higher quality product in most cases.”
Harsh said there have been other noteworthy developments in food service since he started in the field. They include the single stock fund bypass, a payment process system, and containerized kitchens, a facility on wheels which include air conditioning and refrigeration. He said he is proud to have been part of some of the most important improvements in food service, and that subsistence will continue to be a vital part of the Army’s combat service support mission.
“The future is bright as long as our people continue to show commanders that they have value,” he said. “That’s the key.”
The 68-year-old Hill, a native of Richmond, began his career in the Air Force logistics funds management field in 1959. He retired from the Air Force in 1977, had a stint with the city of Richmond’s purchasing and contract office and came aboard with the QMC&S in 1981.
“It’s been enjoyable,” he said. “I’ve worked with a lot of Soldiers, visited a lot of installations and learned a lot.”
Hill, a man who wears at least six rings, is a man who believes in achievement. He said that each ring represents something he’s accomplished.
“I have a philosophy that you should reward yourself after each achievement,” he said. “Each ring will then be a visible reminder of what you’ve accomplished.”
Hill has accomplished much. He is currently a food services systems analyst team chief at ACES and has spent the last 25 years or so helping to improve subsistence operations. To that end, he said food service operations and personnel have evolved from the days when dining facilities were simple operations and cooks had limited skill sets.
“It’s a business now,” he said. “Not only do you have to cook, but you have to manage and train and you have to do it in an era of automation. There’s constant change, but it’s change for the better.”
In retrospect, Hill said that a customer-focused subsistence program will ensure that food service remains viable to the Army.
“We have to continue to build relationships with Soldiers and further our understanding of them,” said Hill. “We need to keep up with what they like, what they want and try to mirror our program with what they grew up with.”
Hill said that the Army food service program is the best that it has been in years because of the quality of food service personnel.
“We’re getting good, qualified people coming in to work the program,” said Hill. “And we’ve ensured that they have the resources and training programs to further their skills.”
Both Hill and Harsh plan to retire in the next few years, but neither have set firm dates.