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Feeding an army; services technicians deploy to Alabama

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technician from 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, prepares sandwiches for box lunches, May 5, 2011. Willis was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technician from 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, prepares sandwiches for box lunches, May 5, 2011. Willis was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson, a services technician from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, packs a soda pop into a box lunch, May 5, 2011. Wilson was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson, a services technician from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, packs a soda pop into a box lunch, May 5, 2011. Wilson was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technicians from 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, wheel box lunches to a delivery truck, May 5, 2011. Wilson and Willis were at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployer from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technicians from 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, wheel box lunches to a delivery truck, May 5, 2011. Wilson and Willis were at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployer from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson, a services technician from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, packs box lunches into a delivery truck, May 5, 2011. Wilson was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson, a services technician from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, packs box lunches into a delivery truck, May 5, 2011. Wilson was at Danelly Field, Ala. to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing to make lunches for a group of deployers who were working out of Hayneville, Ala. There were about 70 deployers from numerous military components and services in Hayneville for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technicians from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, deliver box lunches to the Hayneville town hall and Master Sgt. Ryan Voigt, first sergeant for the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard selects his box lunch from the stack, May 5, 2011. To make the lunches, Wilson and Willis had to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, Ala. and truck them about 15 miles to Hayneville.  Wilson, Willis, and Voigt are in Alabama  for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. - Senior Airman Allen Wilson and Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis, services technicians from the 176th Sustainment Services Element, Alaska Air National Guard, deliver box lunches to the Hayneville town hall and Master Sgt. Ryan Voigt, first sergeant for the 176th Medical Group, Alaska Air National Guard selects his box lunch from the stack, May 5, 2011. To make the lunches, Wilson and Willis had to borrow the kitchen of the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field, Ala. and truck them about 15 miles to Hayneville. Wilson, Willis, and Voigt are in Alabama for an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission. The IRT program allows for real world training opportunities for military personnel while providing needed services to under-served communities in the United States. Alaska Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shannon Oleson.

HAYNEVILLE, Ala. -- When the 176th Medical Group deployed to open a free medical clinic in this tiny rural town, they didn't come alone. Among other support personnel, they brought with them two members of the 176th Force Support Flight's Sustainment Services Element: Tech. Sgt. Trisha Willis and Senior Airman Allen Wilson.

"Sustainment services" is a somewhat ungainly name used to describe the wide variety of services element members offer: From food services and fitness program, to meeting the morale, recreation and welfare (MWR) needs of deployed service members.

About 35 members of the element's parent unit, the 176th Wing, deployed to Alabama, where they were joined by another 35 military members from an assortment of units across the country. Keeping that busy force fed is job #1 for the service technicians.

The meals are prepared in a kitchen at nearby Dannelly Field, home to the Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing. Cooking assistance is provided by members of the 556th Red Horse Squadron, from Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and the 908th Services Unit, normally based at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

Willis said the majority of the Alaska Guard members' time was spent driving, whether delivering meals to the work sites or picking up supplies in nearby Montgomery. She said so far, things had gone smoothly despite the logistical challenges.

"Transportation from the kitchen to the sites is the biggest challenge," said Willis. "Normally, on these deployments, everyone's confined to one spot, and we cook in the same place we serve. Here, we've got three different sites to deliver to, about fifteen miles from the kitchen."

"Except for the not having coffee at first -- that was a big ordeal for people," she said with a laugh.

The technicians quickly found fans among the Marines participating in the joint operation.

"We're used to MRE's. When people say they don't like box lunches, we're like wow, two sandwiches!" said Lance Cpl. Jacob Stacey, combat engineer with the Marine's 6 Engineer Support Battalion. "Cold pop! Cold apple! I could just go on and on about those. We're used to blowing stuff up, sleeping in the field, not eating at all. This is amazing!"
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