Renaissance Airmen: 512th MAS Airmen jacks of all trades "back for seconds"

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: Reservists of the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron are well-versed in all parts of the services career field while making top-notch customer service a priority. Follow along as this series showcases the spectrum of duties performed by members of the 512th MAS. This article on food service is part two of a four-part series on the services career field.)

Customer service can go a long way when it comes to food service. The reservists with the 512th Memorial Affairs Squadron here not only provide Airmen with customer service, they make it part of their daily duties.

Staff Sgt. Michael Whittington, a food service supervisor with the 512th MAS, is one of 99 reservists trained to help keep Team Dover Airmen well-nourished and fit to fight.

From preparing meals to making sure his troops are caught up on their training so they can carry out their duties, Sergeant Whittington said he admires his role in the food field.

"The food function drew me into services," said the correctional officer from Maryland. "I've always liked learning about fitness and nutrition and having the knowledge to be able to pass on."

Sergeant Whittington, who's been with the 512th MAS since 2001, said he also likes working in food service because he gets to serve his fellow Airmen.

"I'm a people person," he said. "I like customer service and knowing that I am contributing to the health of the troops. It's a reminder of how necessary our job is."

Formal training for the services career field, held at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, lasts six weeks and covers the basic fundamentals of the services core functions of food service, fitness and lodging.

After going through formal training, most technicians will apply their newly-acquired skills in the base dining facility where they will carry out tasks such as: preparing, cooking and serving food, mastering their grilling skills on the short-order line, ensuring food is cooked properly by measuring temperatures and taste testing, and making sure their work areas are clean and sanitary.

The duties of the job are executed daily, but Senior Airman Karina Urgilez-Santamaria, 512th MAS food service journeyman who works under Sergeant Whittington, said the experience is gratifying after a day's work because they provided Airmen with nourishment and a break from their normal duty day.

"Food service is more than simply cooking and serving people," said Airman Urgilez-Santamaria, who served three years on active duty before transferring to the Liberty Wing in 2007. "The most important thing is getting to know people and making the experience enjoyable for the customers. Simple things like asking an (Airman) how their day is going, while working the grill, can turn their day around."

Airman Urgilez-Santamaria said without food service, Airmen would have to find other means of being fed, which can pose an issue to new Airmen who live in the dorms on base.

"There would be a stall in the (Air Force's) mission if you took food out of the equation," she said. "The troops won't be able to function in their jobs as well if they don't eat or end up eating fast food all of the time."

Food-service providers like Sergeant Whittington and Airman Urgilez-Santamaria, along with their services cohorts, provide Airmen with exemplary customer service and proper nourishment to keep them coming back for seconds.