MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- As 9 a.m. drew near, Marines and civilian workers frantically rushed to perfect every small detail of Mess Hall 710, ensuring that it is ready for inspection. Marines and civilian workers experienced a preliminary inspection of the station mess hall Aug. 16 to determine if it was qualified to battle against other Corps mess halls for The Commandant’s Maj. Gen. W.P.T. Hill Award.
A team of five inspectors -- comprised of senior enlisted and Marine officers in food service from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, evaluated the overall performance in 11 categories, said Master Sgt. Lora Hall, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron food technician.
The categories are: management, food preparation, sanitation, serving techniques, food acceptability, effectiveness of training, conservation measures, equipment, personal hygiene, receiving and storage procedures and implementation of the Facility Improvement Program, said Maj. James McCoy, mess hall inspector and director of regional food services from Marine Corps Installations West.
The inspectors observed the performance of the mess hall for four to six hours, said Master Gunnery Sgt. Manuel Oquendo, MCI West mess hall inspector.
“We want to be there long enough to see how they set up and if they use the correct recipes,” said Oquendo. “We like to stay for at least one meal to get a good idea of how the mess hall performs.”
The winner is determined using a numbered scoring system, with 260 points being a perfect score, said McCoy. The inspectors don’t tell the winning mess hall its score if advancing instead, the mess hall is just told it’ll be the one representing MCI West.
The W.P.T. Hill Award is given to the best mess hall of the year in the Marine Corps. The W.P.T. Hill Award has two categories, said Hall. The full food service category is awarded to mess halls that have all civilian workers.
The station mess hall falls under the second category: management and mess attendant category, which has both Marine and civilian workers.
The station mess hall won the W.P.T. Hill Award three years in a row, being the first ever to win the award three consecutive years. Mess hall staff plan to make it four in a row this year, said James Demaree, project manager from Superior Services. Demaree and Superior Services oversee the civilian development and performance of mess halls from Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command 29 Palms, Camp Pendleton and the station.
If the mess hall is able to get the highest rating in the phase one inspection, it will represent the West and go through the second phase of inspection along with the representatives from the East Coast and overseas for the W.P.T. Hill Award, said Oquendo.
The Marines and civilian workers worked hard preparing for this day. Hopefully all goes well, said Hall.
The results of the inspection will be announced next week.