JSTARS food service pros support the 57th Presidential Inauguration
By Master Sgt. Roger Parsons, 116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 23, 2013
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- While many American's tuned in to the 57th Presidential Inauguration from the comfort of their homes, a team of Georgia Guardsmen from the 116th Air Control Wing, packed up a field kitchen and travelled from Robins Air Force Base to our nation's capital to provide food service as a part of the District of Columbia Joint Task Force.
With more than 6,000 National Guard troops from 32 states and territories--providing traffic control, crowd management, transportation, communication, medical and logistical support--the job of feeding the troops rested in the hands of the food service experts from Air National Guard units across the country.
When the call for support went out, the Joint STARS 116th Force Support Squadron was quick to offer a team of experienced Services personnel along with a single pallet expeditionary kitchen.
"This is a unique opportunity that most individuals in the service don't get," said Air National Guard Maj. Bryan Brown, commander of the 116th FSS. "Our team might not have been in the spotlight, but they filled the vital role of feeding the troops who were supporting the events surrounding the inauguration."
During their five-day deployment to the National Capital Region, the team--consisting entirely of part-time 'Traditional Guardsmen'-- set up and operated a mobile field kitchen just blocks from the Capital at the Kennedy Recreation Center.
Arriving Friday evening, they were fully functional within hours and successfully met every Joint Task Force requirement throughout the deployment. Daily short notice schedule changes and the magnitude of the operation required round the clock attention to food preparation.
At any given time, the number of troops they were scheduled to feed would change by more than 100 people.
"Without fail, they switched gears, went with the flow and displayed the flexibility required to meet the mission," said Master Sgt. Patrick McMahon, troop commander for the trip. "Even though our folks are all part-time Guardsmen, many have multiple deployments under their belts and a number of us did this same type of mission in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts."
The trip held special significance for McMahon as it was his first trip with his younger brother, Senior Airman Daniel McMahon, a services journeyman with the unit. For both it was their first trip to D.C.
"I think it's awesome to go on this trip with my brother," said the younger McMahon. "My brother and I are really close so it's like going on a trip with my best friend."
For the 116th FSS and every member of the team, this was the first time they deployed to support a presidential inauguration. When the opportunity presented itself there was no shortage of volunteers, according to the squadron's leadership.
When Tech. Sgt. Terrance Woods learned of the opportunity, he signed up right away. Four years ago during President Barrack Obama's first inauguration, Woods was attending Airman Leadership School while his mother attended the inauguration.
"I was not able to attend the last inauguration with my mother and she burned up my phone with text messages about how excited she was," said Woods. "This time it was my turn to be a part of the inauguration."
Each time the doors opened to the Kennedy Recreation Center with hungry Soldiers and Airmen, all the hard work paid off. The Services personnel were able to offer nourishment with a little southern hospitality while representing the wing and the state of Georgia with honor.
"I am proud to say that the Georgia National Guard's very own 116th FSS was a vital component in the events surrounding the 57th Presidential Inauguration," said Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, adjutant general of the Georgia National Guard. "The Inaugural Ceremony's theme this year was 'Faith in America's Future', and with men and women like those who serve in the Georgia National Guard leading from the front, I have just that--faith that our great Nation will continue to be unparalleled in the world."