CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- ‘New and improved’ is a common phrase for Marines on the front lines in the Global War on Terrorism. In addition to enhanced equipment and refined tactics, simple improvements in quality of life are a big help too.
Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, recently received a new dining facility here. The first meal was served up May 7.
“It provides us with a great atmosphere to eat in,” said Lance Cpl. Paul J. Redmond, a communications technician with Headquarters and Support Company. “The people who work there are very helpful and courteous to us.”
The new facility is capable of holding three times the amount of Marines than the previous chow hall and is open longer hours.
A civilian service company is contracted to operate the new chow hall, which provides a much larger selection of food for the Marines.
“It is a great morale booster for the Marines here,” said Kendo Lampley, the food service manger of the Camp Baharia chow hall. “We try to put a smile on their faces.”
The chow hall is air-conditioned and staffed by more than 30 workers, all in an effort to make the dining experience as comfortable as possible for its customers.
“The variety of food and drinks that are offered to us is incredible,” Redmond said, from Weymouth, Mass. “Anything you want, they got it.”
The unit’s previous chow hall consisted of a buffet style line and was usually only capable of serving a small selection of vacuum sealed, pre-made dishes for the Marines plates. Battalion cooks were working around the clock to make sure their Marines were fed, but often times the food was mashed together and cold without their knowing.
Now, a main line, short order line, taco bar, salad bar, ice cream bar and a wide assortment of drink coolers are available to the Marines here.
“It is over all a great place for the men to be able to come to and enjoy,” said Sgt. Jeremy A. Greib, the battalion’s mess chief, from Ports Mouth, N.H.
But the new service not only helps to provide a better selection and quality of food to the Marines here, it is also provides improved meals for Marines located at forward operating bases in the area.
“We don’t have to worry about manning a chow hall anymore, it’s on auto-pilot,” Grieb explained. “My Marines can now focus more of their time on providing food to the guys who can’t come and eat here.”
Meals cooked and prepared at the chow hall are distributed to several distribution points through out the area of operations twice a day, seven days a week.
“It’s a lot better now,” said Lance Cpl. Fabio Riano, one of the Marines who receives the new meals from the chow hall. “Before it was the same old thing every day. Now we get something new everyday.”
“It is a proven fact that Marines will patrol and generally perform better under a healthy diet,” Grieb said. “I am working to make sure that the guys on the ground in the city of Fallujah everyday are getting everything that they need to make their mission a successful one.”
“It is something to look forward to after working all day,” added 19 year-old Riano, from New York City.