645th ICTC competes in DA Connelly Competition

By Capt. Fernando Ochoa | 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) | July 6, 2020

FORT IRWIN, Calif. —

Soldiers from the 645th Inland Cargo Transportation Company participated in the 52nd annual Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, in a desert setting, on Fort Irwin on March 6. In the end, they won the United States Army Reserve Field Kitchen Winner award.

Co-sponsored by the Department of the Army and the National Restaurant Association, units are evaluated by the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence standard.

The 645th ICTC competed by cooking and serving a meal in this higher round of competition. They are evaluated on categories that range from field food safety and headcount operations to effective use of manpower and the appearance, and attitude of the food service personnel.

“I have to say that I'm very proud of my cooking section who were thrown together at this competition with very limited resources and time” said Capt. Victor Ferrervillanueeva, 645th ICTC commander. “To the Soldiers that made this possible I would like to say that they earned this all the way, many people in our military can claim to be good at their MOS, but our guys just proved to be the best at the Army level.”

The Philip A. Connelly Awards Program is the Army’s ultimate cooking competition, which began in 1968 and takes in active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard mess sections from across the globe in order find the best Army cooking operations. To simulate a down range environment, the unit’s operation was set in the California desert, where a real-life scenario could reflect a deployment to Iraq.

Part of the competition scenario is preparing a meal in a combat zone environment. Stations where security is observed, hands can be washed, Soldiers can be signed in, meals can be eaten, utensils can be washed, and a fully functional kitchen is displayed.

Led by Sgt. Adriano Wierbinski, 645th ICTC culinary specialist NCOIC, there was a team consisting of eight personnel, including six culinary specialists and two sanitation team members, working together with camaraderie.

“Winning this award is huge not just for the members of the team, but for the 645th Transportation Company who worked so hard as usual,” said Wierbinski. “From the first day of entering this competition to the very end we’ve come a long way and winning this means a lot and it’s such a relief it’s over with.”

The best part of this competition is that it is a great training environment for young Soldiers like Pfc. Gabriel Lopez, 645th ICTC culinary specialist. They learn to work more efficiently in a fast-paced environment and to contribute towards a successful team effort.

“Without the support of my team and my own hunger to learn, I would not have been able to make any of this possible,” said Lopez. “I would say that the hardest part of the competition was the last minute crunch time before serving. It was absolutely stressful, but we all managed to pull through in the end.”

This program was named after Phillip A. Connelly, a leader in the Food Service Management Corp and a former President of the IFSEA, who worked diligently and earnestly throughout his life to promote professionalism in food service, in both the civilian and military services.

The Transportation Corps is a combat service support branch of the U.S. Army. It is also one of three U.S. Army logistics branches, the others being the Quartermaster Corps and the Ordnance Corps. The Transportation Corps is responsible for the movement of personnel and material by truck, rail and air.

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