Soldier cooks up morale
BY SPC. NATHAN W. HUTCHISON
SPECIAL TO AMERICAN FORCES
FIREBASE NAWA, Afghanistan Soldiers on the front lines
are used to meals, ready to eat -high-energy, high-calorie packaged
meals with little emphasis on taste.
Army Spc. Dairo Orozco, of
the 82nd Airborne Division's Company F, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute
Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, is the cook for paratroopers
here, and his skills bring an extra touch to the MREs and unitized
group ration meals the soldiers eat. "
A (UGR) is just precooked
stuff you put in boiling water for about 45 minutes to an hour,
and presto," said Orozco, a 25-year-old Queens, N.Y, native. "You
just set it and forget it."
Orozco, called "Roscoe" by the soldiers,
arrived at this firebase in the south of Afghanistan's Ghazni province
"I was selected to come out here to do the big Thanksgiving
Day meal, because the brigade commander and command sergeant major
were coming out," Orozco said. "I never got replaced, so I did the
same for Christmas and just stuck around."
Even though it's not
hard to please a platoon of paratroopers used to dining on MREs,
Orozco has culinary arts in his blood. "My father and uncle are
chefs," Orozco explained. "My father is the food production manager
at Gate Gourmet, an airline catering company and my uncle is an
executive chef at Intercontinental Hotels."
While Orozco doesn't
have the facilities and resources to create gourmet meals, the soldiers
at Nawa appreciated his efforts during the holidays. "Christmas
dinner was great," said Army 1st Lt. Mordechai D. Sorkin, 3rd Platoon
leader, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
"He's pretty creative; (he) makes do with minimal resources and
makes some pretty good stuff."
With a UGR as the canvas for a culinary
masterpiece, it's usually difficult for Orozco to constantly rise
to the challenge, the Army cook said.
"Pizza-baked spaghetti is the No. 1 product right now, but not by
choice," Orozco said. "One of the better UGR meals is the buffalo chicken and lemon chicken,
but most of our food stock consists of pizza bake."
pizza-bake spaghetti, a meal consisting of meat chunks, noodles
and pizza sauce, tops the soldiers' list of worst entrees, but added
that he tries to make the meals as enjoyable as possible.
"Roscoe puts a lot more effort into the food than just dropping it
in the water, so we're not really eating the same thing every
time," said Army Spc. Jeremy A. Clark, 4th Platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion,
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "He's done the best he can with
what we have." Luckily for the paratroopers in Nawa, Orozco
has enough knowledge about the local food and spices to make a
from scratch. "Probably about once a week he goes out to get local
food and cook it up," Clark said. "He's a real good cook, and I
think it helps out a lot with the guys' morale." Orozco said he
originally joined the Army for culinary arts, but the service dropped
that military occupational specialty and changed everyone in it
to food operations specialists. "The Army hasn't been exactly what
I was expecting, but it has made me more mature," Orozco said. "I
may not have learned much more about culinary arts than I already
knew, but I know I'll make better decisions once I get out because
of my training."
Army Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison serves with 22nd Mobile
Public Affairs Detachment.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PHOTO Army
Spc. Dairo Orozco, cook for the 82nd Airborne Division's Company
F, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade
Combat Team, prepares dinner on Jan. 13 at Firebase Nawa, Afghanistan.
[The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA, 29 Jan 2008, Tue, Page B3]
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