The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion was named the reserve component food service section runner-up in the Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Program.
The Oak Creek, Wisconsin-based unit won the Region 3 competition last August, and served up an encore performance in March. The winners were announced in June. The food service section from the 443rd Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit in Elkhorn, Nebraska, edged Wisconsin for the reserve component crown.
"Since we are the top-scoring unit from the National Guard, [Wisconsin has] the right to say they have the top food service team in the country ó an important bragging right in many circles," said Sgt. Kyle Edwards, the Wisconsin National Guard food program manager. Edwards was the lead cook with the Headquarters Company's food service section during the competition.
The National Guard Bureau awarded the Wisconsin National Guard $40,000 to be used for its food service equipment budget in the next fiscal year. That incentive, and the media coverage resulting from the Wisconsin National Guard's first team to compete in the Connelly Awards in 16 years, appears to have prompted interest in the award from other units. The Headquarters Company of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, based in Portage, Wisconsin, will compete in the Connelly Awards regional level July 12 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
"[We] simply broke the ice," Edwards said.
While taking part in a national competition draws the attention of senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders and results in a little extra pomp, Edwards said that the coordination, time and effort involved is essentially the same as a standard field feeding mission.
"Overall it is an evaluation of what right is supposed to look like," he said.