By Maj. Joe Blubaugh, 15th Wing Public Affairs
The aircraft ramp at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam was noticeably busy throughout RIMPAC 2014. While it took a lot of extra fuel to keep the aircraft flying throughout the exercise, it also required a lot of extra effort to make sure all the personnel supporting those aircraft were able to get the fuel they needed. That was the job of the 647th Force Support Squadron (FSS).
Responsible for both the Hale Aina Dining Facility and the Mokulele Flight Kitchen, the squadron saw their ops tempo nearly double during the exercise. Through the two facilities, the squadron normally serves approximately 1,000 meals during a normal week, a number that doubled during the month-long exercise. All of those extra meals meant a lot more time in the kitchen for the staff at each facility.
“The managers of each facility have had to balance their force to accomplish the mission,” said Master Sgt. Bud Wendel, section chief of food service.
That force is made up of a civilian contract team, 647th FSS military members and several members of the Hawaii Air National Guard.
Tech. Sgt. LaTonya Robinson, dining facility manager at the Hale Aina, said staffing her facility was the biggest challenge. “I had to push people a little harder, but everybody has maintained a positive attitude and understood the mission comes first.”
It was a different challenge at the flight kitchen, said Staff Sgt. Leticia Anderson, the facility’s storeroom manager. The flight kitchen is responsible for providing meals for air-crews, duty passengers and space available passengers, as well as for the flight line workers who pick up lunch when they don’t have time to leave their positions.
“Our biggest challenge is the uncertainty of how many people we will be serving day-to-day. It fluctuates drastically,” said Anderson, who estimated the kitchen was serving approximately twice the number of meals as normal during RIMPAC.
“We know we have a mission that needs to get done and we push through it,” said Anderson. “It can make for a long day, but we have the satisfaction of knowing the mission is getting accomplished.”
Maj. Chris Hauver, 647th FSS Commander, said the exercise was a great tool for him as it stressed the system and provided outstanding training, all while showcasing his staff’s ability to surge to accomplish the mission.
“No exercise happens without awesome support,” said Hauver. “Through nutritious meals and excellent customer service, our food service team has fueled RIMPAC.”