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17th Fires Brigade received the Phillip A. Connelly award

Sgt. Jacqueline Fennell Soldiers with 308th BSB, 17th Fires Bde., receive the Phillip A. Connelly award in the ‘Active Field Kitchen’ category from FORSCOM Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. John R. O’Connor, Sept 21.

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Soldiers attached to the 308th Brigade Support Battalion, 17th Fires Brigade, received the Phillip A. Connelly award for the best in the ‘Active Field Kitchen' category by U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. John R. O'Connor, Sept. 21.

The food service team members earned the honors during the 45th annual FORSCOM competition held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in June after winning the installation competition in March.

"As we manage readiness in our Army, this type of program allows us to achieve that level of service," O'Connor said. "It raises the bar for everyone to strive to this standard of excellence."

The evaluation requires a food service team to prepare meals in the field and still be able to meet the professional standards of the International Food Service Executives Association, said Sgt. Maj. Ricky B. Gaines, the chief food operations management NCO, I Corps.

"It's been an extreme painstaking experience waking up at 4 a.m. and working until the dark hours of the night, digging fox holes and setting up fighting positions for months," said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Hillard, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 17th Fires Bde. "Over 1,000 sand bags were individually filled in addition to pulling 24-hour guard duty on some nights."

"It was hot and there was little time to rest, but it was all worth it," said Sgt. Andrea S. Lake, 657th Forward Support Company, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment. Lake also received an individual award for exceptional performance during the competition.

Winning the FORSCOM competition, allows the team to compete for the Armywide title in November.

"Although it puts a lot more stress on us to compete at the Department of Army level in November," said Spc. Heather C. Durrette, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 308th BSB, "in the end it feels good knowing that our command is behind us because they have that much faith in us."

Specialist Keith N. Thomas, a food service operator who also competed, assigned to Headquarters and HHC, 308th BSB, said he thinks it is necessary to have an open mind to learn how to set the standard.

"It goes beyond leadership because without the will to learn, you'll never be able to obtain the knowledge you need to do something better, even if it's what you love to do," Thomas said.

As the food service operator team embarks on the next challenge to perform at the Armywide competition, they strive to be better and reach new goals.

"I'm just appreciative of having the opportunity to set a standard because I enjoyed it," Thomas said. "I always want to strive to be better because it makes all the more worthwhile."

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