As many of you know, Jim is currently traveling the western United States with the Air Force evaluating the food service in the airman dining facilities.
His travels are taking him to 8 bases in the West during the month of February. And he is sharing his journey with us!
We’ll keep updating this post as we get updates from Jim…enjoy! (FYI, scroll down to read the first and previous updates).
Update – March 3rd
Well it has been a few days since I have updated everyone on my travels.
Here I sit in an very nice townhouse at Eilson AFB just outside the North Pole, that is close to Fairbanks.
This is the last of our 8 base evaluations and we three will be glad to get home, but will miss doing the work that this tour calls for.
Mike and Amanda and I have created a bond as I did with my first tour back in 2004. (Yes later that year we opened the Artichoke).
Working with the young airmen, it has been rewarding to see eager KIDS wanting to serve our country and feed the Force with good food for the fight.
The mission statement here is: Feeding the Force at minus 48!!
Last week the weather was much better as most every morning it had been at least 24 below but today it is 4 above at Noon.
They have given us a big 2500 four wheel drive truck that most days has been using all four to get around the base.
Some of you may have seen some of the photos I posted on FB about touring the F16s which are 30 plus years old and this base has the ones that are working better than other bases.
Most of the fighterss are in Guam or Australia until warm weather and in 2018 they will get the F35s that the guys at Edwards said they tested and got ready for use.
This was backed up by the Major that was touring us around as he was at Edwards doing just that.
They paint there aircraft in color patterns that make them look like the enemy i.e.: the hammer and sickle folks.
Most exciting has been seeing the Northern Lights for the last couple of nights, will post photos later as I was doing the driving not hanging out the window of the truck.
Cloudy and snowy today so no Lights tonight.
Update – February 23rd
Greetings from Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls – the closest I have been to Oklahoma Since January 31st.
This base is training airmen from all over the US and a few countries around the globe as they are rebuilding the Air Force back to the strength needed to complete their mission.
The difference with this base is that they have 3 dining halls and a commissary kitchen to keep theses new and seasoned troops nourished so they can train and study all subjects to get those stripes on their sleeve.
We arrived on Sunday and since they only had one hall open on Monday, Presidents Day, as many of you were off work the crew in the Mesquite Hall were feeding a few hundred more than normal.
Tuesday and today kept my crew running to see each hall and all of the staff with three meals in each and the Midnight feeding, which last night included chocolate pancakes.
The line formed 15 minutes before the doors opened at 2330 (Living on that 24 hour cock).
The lady manning the grill had orders ready to go from some of the young guys before they got inside.
The airmen enjoy their last feeding and conversation with friends, most were just getting to know each other.
After was our out brief, where we handed out awards to the outstanding performers in each of the 4 locations.
This program gets great support from the officers, chiefs and management.
This is a Contract base where a company gives jobs to hard working individuals with disabilities.
This made me feel close to home as many are happy and glad to work like our Home of Hope clients.
Tomorrow before the sun comes up we will be headed to our next base that is located in New Mexico near Clovis.
And yes we have to go back to Dallas before we can get there and then drive for a couple of hours.
The weather has followed us with rain or snow at the first 5 bases – next one will be the last chance for warmth as then on to Colorado and Alaska.
The best part of the visit to Shepard was having Diana join us and stay for a couple of days.
But never fear she is back at the Artichoke with our great team taking care of our Great customers!!
I did notice that we have gotten 6 five star ratings since I have been on this tour…..see I knew that they could keep up the Great work for you folks!
Signing off for Now!! Jimmy
Update – February 18th
Greetings from Tucson and Davis – Monthan Air Force base.
We have just passed the halfway point in our tour, just before this base we were in the desert outside of Los Angles, like two and a half hours, at Edwards Air Force Base.
This is the second largest base in the Air Force and has the mission of many branches of the military including NASA.
As you might remember this is where the space shuttle could and did land when weather was not workable in Florida.
For our OKC friends we can remember the shuttle making refueling stops at Tinker.
We got a tour of the flight line and got up close with a 60 year old B52 which had a logo of Oklahoma on the side of the plane.
It was in for an upgrade of tech stuff, and we got our heads in the weapons area and saw where the tail gunner would have to walk a very short and skinny walkway to carry ammo to his spot, that spot has been sealed up for it’s current use.
We were then escorted to the new work horse of the AF the B1 bomber and got to stick our head up into a very crowded area with just enough room for 4 airmen.
While looking at these planes there were 4 F16s from Shaw AF base in South Carolina and watched them take off (very loud up that close).
The DFAC as they call it was manned by a contract group so there were not any airmen working in this facility.
We held them to the same standards as other bases and they all worked very hard feeding the airmen breakfast, lunch, dinner and, yes a Midnight Meal.
So folks have asked Diana if I was enjoying my vacation….well, last night I got 4 hours sleep!!!
Back To Davis – Monthan, this base is running by all airmen – male and female – and a group giving jobs to folks with disabilities much like our great clients at Home of Hope back home.
This great group of kids from all over the country pull together to safely prepare tasty food to empower their fellow base members.
Some of them have only been here for a few days and are being trained to cook for the first time.
At each base where airmen are working we select one of them as a Hennessy Traveler, that person will be going on a 10 day tour and training at the Culinary Institute of America campus in Napa Valley at Greystone.
At that time the Traveler of the Year will be selected.
This event is for all of the military that are evaluated by our NRA Ed Foundation members.
Winning this and the base award means a great deal to the base and the military members they represent.
Next we go to Shepard AF base in Wichita Falls and have a very important friend joining us there…….guess who.
By the way my teams has traveled 4,699 miles so far.
The motto for this base is – I AM AMERICAN AIRMAN.
Update – February 8th
Pictured here are my team members – to my right is Master Sergeant Amanda Procknal and Mika Sabella.
We took an early morning run up to see the fathers of our country, no matter how many times we you see it you can be moved by the massive carvings.
The sun came out as we arrived and then went to the ice cream shop, skipped the ice cream and had a good breakfast, it was 14 degrees!!
We met a great group of airmen working to feed their fellow airman to and keep their mission running and healthy.
As you would expect there are lots of procedures that need to followed, they are followed all across the entire major command units.
We have now traveled to Travis AF base, so this morning at 4:30 AM we headed to the small airport outside Rapid City and the temp was at 0 degrees and overnight had dropped about 3 inches of snow.
Good Luck for us as the equipment was ready and waiting to be deiced and get us to Dallas and connect us to our flight to Travis.
So we went from zero to 60 in just a few hours!!
So off in the morning to work with a very enthusiastic group of young Airman!!
February 4, 2017, The journey begins…
Four days of training and orientation here in San Antonio at Air Force Service Activities Center in a building housing over 3,000 people with a mix of civilian and Air Force personnel on the old Kelly Air Field.
Having been a traveler 12 years ago, most of the material was a review but with an update of the improvements that have been instituted.
When Diana took me to the Tulsa airport and I left her the keys I realized I would not be driving for the next few weeks.
Escorted at first by Sergeant Ware and bags were handled by others.
As we gathered at the hotel here by the Alamo we got to meet our traveling partners that I would be with and the other team member that will be evaluating the Eastern Region.
My partner is Mike Sabella from San Francisco who is a CIA graduate with a great deal of experience as well as an instructor of the NRA sanitation program.
Our Air Force traveler is Sergeant Procknal who works in the service office and is a former food service manager at the first base we will be evaluating.
The Air Force and the food service profession are best as we continue relationships with those that we have worked with in the past.
I got in contact with my former traveling partner Patrick Dunn. He has since retired and is working for a branch of the Army overseeing resorts in really great locations around the globe.
Over the few weeks we were evaluating Air Force bases from Spain to Japan we became close friends and remained in contact for the last 12 years.
The training this time was a great deal deeper than my last time out and gave us all a much better understanding of the quality that is expected from headquarters her in San Antonio.
This included a detailed mock review of the base at Medea on the Lackland Base that has training for new recruits from all over the country learning the Air Force way and mission.
We even spotted some airman doing push-ups after lunch before getting back to training.
Up early has been the adjustment for me as it will be on Super Bowl Sunday to Ellsworth outside of Rapid City, SD.
I checked the weather and we dodged the 18 degree high a day or two ago, should be reasonable, like mid 40s.