Feeding Red Flag

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Staff Sgt. Daniel Bickford, 99th Force Support Squadron food service craftsman, adds seasoning to a dish for service members on temporary duty to Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2019. Red Flag was established in 1975 to better prepare our forces for combat. Lessons from Vietnam showed that if a pilot survived ten combat missions, his chances of surviving remaining missions increased significantly. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Bryan Magee)

The Crosswinds Dining Facility has a rise in business during each Red Flag exercise that takes place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

“During normal non-exercise times, we serve anywhere from 150 to 200 people a day per meal period,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Thorton, 99th Force Support Squadron storeroom manager. “When we bolster up for Red Flag, that number goes up easily to 300 per meal period.”

With an influx of nearly double the number of patrons, the dining facility beefs up its manning through augmenters from Force Support Squadrons around the Air Force.
“Right now we have one Airman from Shaw and a few others from Mountain Home over at the flight kitchen,” he said.

Supply trucks come three times a week like usual, even during Red Flag, but the amount of resources increase.

“We end up having to order about $1,500 more worth of product each truck, so you’re looking at $4,500 extra a week for the Red Flag exercises,” said Thorton.

Airman 1st Class Riley, 319th Force Support Squadron food service journeyman, Grand Forks AFB, N.D., serves lunch for service members during Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2019. Red Flag was established in 1975 to better prepare our forces for combat. Lessons from Vietnam showed that if a pilot survived 10 combat missions, his chances of surviving remaining missions increased significantly.

A surge in supplies also brings obstacles to the dining facility, such as storing logistics and experiencing equipment malfunctions.

“Sometimes our freezers go down, especially during the summer time, so we have to move items around here or to the flight kitchen,” said Senior Airman Jessica Sides, 99th Force Support Squadron storeroom clerk. “Basically, if a freezer goes down we can only have a limited number of items on hand.”

To help mitigate this type of loss, periodic checks are conducted.

Staff Sgt. Shane Thornton, a storeroom manager, assigned to 99th Force Support Squadron, restocks inventory during Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev, July 19, 2019. Red Flag is a combat training exercise designed to expose pilots to their first 10 “combat missions”, allowing them to be more confident and effective in real-world combat.

“We conduct temperature checks every three hours to keep eyes on the proper settings in the freezers and refrigerators,” said Sides. “If those are off, we’ll call in an emergency work order to make sure everything is properly maintained.”

Having a contingency plan ensures their mission continues with few or no snags.

Whether it’s normal operations or heightened ops tempo, Airmen at the Crosswinds Dining Facility are proud to serve.

“We always try to accommodate everyone who comes to eat so they can get a healthy meal,” said Sides. “We’re honored to be charged with that responsibility.”
 

Senior Airman Joseph Santos, 99th Force Support Squadron food service journeyman, prepares lunch for service members during Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2019. Red Flag is a combat training exercise involving the U.S. Air Force and its joint and coalition partners. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Bryan Magee)

 
Staff Sgt. Jessica Sides, 99th Force Support Squadron storeroom clerk, restocks inventory during Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 19, 2019. Red Flag is a combat training exercise involving the U.S. Air Force and its joint and coalition partners. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Bryan Magee)

 
Senior Airman Tati-Anna Thomas, 926th Force Support Squadron food service journeyman, prepares lunch for service members during Red Flag 19-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 18, 2019. Red Flag is a combat training exercise designed to expose pilots to their first 10 “combat missions,” allowing them to be more confident and effective in real-world combat. (Air Force photograph by Tech. Sgt. Bryan Magee)