Operation Feed the Troops returns at Dover AFB

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Operation Feed the Troops served a holiday meal to more than 900 members of Team Dover, Dec. 14, 2021.

The annual tradition, now in its 18th year, returned in 2021 after the COVID pandemic canceled the event in 2020.

Retired Master Sgt. Robert “Bob” Reese, founder and organizer of OFTT, along with his group of more than 30 local volunteers helped serve the holiday meal for active duty, Reserve and civilian coworkers, as well as family members.

The traditional dinner consisted of turkey, stuffing, green beans, corn, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and a variety of desserts and beverages. It is Reese’s way of showing his appreciation for the workers on base.

“It [OFTT] makes me feel real good,” said Reese. “It made me feel really bad last year where we couldn’t show appreciation for the troops around here that can’t go home or don’t have anybody to spend it with. It was great to see everybody come in once we opened the doors.”

Over the years, Reese has repeated the story of how OFTT started.

"This goes back when I first joined the military; Mom and Dad used to do the same thing," said Reese. "When I came home for the first time, they told me to bring a couple of friends along."

The following year, Reese’s parents told him to bring more friends and implanted the idea of cooking for the troops for what was to later become the first Feed the Troops Dinner held in 2004.

“OFTT volunteers are from local businesses, churches and veterans who want to show their appreciation for what they are doing,” said Reese.

Volunteers from local businesses, churches and veterans help set up, cook and serve the meals. Many of them return year after year to help serve two different meals for day and night shift workers. For a few volunteers, this was their first time experiencing OFTT.

“This is my first time; it’s been a great experience,” said Kelly Brion, who volunteered to serve food . “It’s so important that we give back to those who serve us and I enjoy thanking them [Airmen and Guardians] for their service.”

For one Airman and others who have been stationed at Dover AFB less than two years, this was their first OFTT.

“I really liked it and thought it was very sweet. I didn’t realize how big of a thing it is or how many people would go,” said Airman 1st Class Sarah Hoskins, 436th Communications Squadron cyber operations server management technician. “It was nice to have a free lunch and I was glad to experience it this year.”

In all, 52 turkeys were served, along with all the trimmings.

“This makes me feel good that the community can show appreciation to the men and women who keep us safe,” said Reese.