Camp Foster mess hall smokes competition for second year
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — For the second year in a row, the mess hall here chewed up the competition and come out on top as the best facility in the Marine Corps in its class.
Camp Foster’s Mess Hall 488 staff recently learned they again will receive the Maj. Gen. W.P.T. Hill award for Best Jointly Operated Garrison Mess Hall in the Corps, according to Master Sgt. Carlos Middlebrooks, mess hall manager.
Middlebrooks said he thinks the award, named for a former quartermaster general of the Marine Corps, is due to the effort staff members put into their daily offerings.
“One thing that has made this facility as accomplished as it is, is because we put so much time into it,” he said. “I hate to think about the amount of time, but when you’re dedicated, you don’t worry about how much time you put into your work.”
The mess hall is in the jointly operated category because active-duty Marines and civilians work there. Middlebrooks said he has 57 civilians and 23 Marines on staff.
To get to the top of the field, Middlebrooks said, his facility first had to compete against others in the same category throughout Japan. By winning that round, Mess Hall 488 went on to face other regional winners for best in the Marine Corps. In addition to best jointly operated, three other categories are in the competition: active-duty field mess, full-food-service garrison mess and special-recognition field mess.
Winning the award back-to-back is no easy task, Middlebrooks said. A high turnover rate means constantly having to train Marines on how the facility operates.
Said Cpl. Daniel Champagne, the mess hall’s subsistence clerk: “We worked hard to achieve that goal. It’s a thankless job a lot of times so it’s a good feeling to know that somebody else cares … somebody recognizes us and the Marine Corps cares about what we do.”
One customer who eats at the mess hall at least every other day said he could see why the facility would earn an award.
“It’s very well managed and very clean … and the food is consistently good,” said Sgt. Maurice Williams, who works at the Installation Personnel Administrative Center on Camp Foster. He’s been on Okinawa for 3½ years and said he has seen the quality of the food get “a whole lot better.”
Middlebrooks said Mess Hall 488 will receive the award officially in April at a ceremony in Miami.