Missile chefs cook up some morale for the Mighty Ninety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
This is the third of a four-part series depicting the everyday life at a missile alert facility

Someone who spends enough time at F. E. Warren will no doubt hear about how amazing the tater tots served to missile alert facility personnel are.

However, the excellence of missile chefs in the 90th Missile Wing is not limited to fried potatoes. Their support role at MAFs helps ensure smooth daily operations.

"Without missile chefs providing hot meals for MAF personnel, productivity and morale might potentially suffer," said Master Sgt. James Breeden, 319th Missile Squadron chef noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "Your morale is going to go down greatly if all you have to eat is MREs. You'll get the mission done, perhaps, but not as well."

It is important for chefs to not only provide hot meals for MAF personnel, but to do so in a safe manner. By adhering to safety standards, missile chefs can avoid spreading foodborne illnesses, said Senior Airman Yang Vang, 319th MS missile chef.

"If I get anybody sick, the mission could fail," she explained.

Missile chefs prepare and store food according to the standards outlined in the 2005 U.S. Food Code, said Breeden.

Missile chefs are also considered the chiefs of morale in their MAFs. As chiefs of morale, they are also responsible for finding ways to keep spirits high, Vang said.

"Anything we bring for entertainment to the MAF is what the other people here get," she said.

In addition to entertainment items, missile chefs coordinate with facility managers to bring exercise equipment for use by MAF personnel, she added.

It is important for MAF personnel to stay fit to fight, so each MAF needs exercise equipment, Breeden said.

Another task missile chefs are responsible for is assisting FMs during emergency situations, Vang explained.

"The on-duty facility manager is responsible for handling emergencies," Breeden said. "The chef is their wingman in that event."

There is a lot of responsibility placed on missile chefs, and they are mostly on their own while on duty, said Breeden.

While FMs provide oversight and a general leadership example, they are not necessarily members of the services career field like missile chefs, so missile chefs must perform tasks on their own at a relatively early point in their Air Force careers, said Airman 1st Class Michael Mitchell, 319th MS missile chef.

"I don't have someone I can go to at all times to ask questions about my career field," he said. "It allows me to grow in my leadership role early."

What makes the job, along with all its duties and responsibility, worth it, Mitchell said, is knowing he has helped keep up the morale of personnel at the MAF at which he works.

"When I get comment cards back saying 'good chef' or 'kept my morale up,' it let's me know I've done my job," he said.

While incoming chefs receive orders to become part of the 90th Force Support Squadron, chefs are assigned to the 319th, 320th and 321st Missile Squadrons based on need, Breeden explained.

Services Airmen are limited to two continuous years as a missile chef because upgrade training requires proficiency in more than one services duty. Services duties include food services, fitness, lodging and readiness, he said.

"I think I'll miss this job when I change to another one," Mitchell said. "It's my first experience in the operational Air Force."