MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- The enlisted dining facility was recently chosen to receive the W.P.T. Hill award for best messing facility in the Marine Corps.
The award will be presented at an all-service conference the second weekend of April in Dallas, according to Gunnery Sgt. Brian Dieken, Food Service Operations Chief.
Several factors were looked at during the inspection process, he said. The financial stability of the facility was taken into consideration, along with food production and sanitation, presentation of food and the facility, maintenance of the facility and training programs for personnel.
"They don't just come in, look at the serving line and say, 'yeah, you're good,'" Dieken said. "They look from the beginning, on things such as how the menu is set up."
From every mess hall Marine and civilian to station maintenance participating in the preparation, winning the award was a team effort, he added.
"It didn't come easy," Dieken said. "The Marines in the galley only had two of the three watches working during the preparation, as the others were with (Weapons and Tactics Instructor course)."
Each watch stayed extra hours after their shift was over to sand and re-varnish the wood on the main mess desk for about a month prior to the inspection, he added. They also re-painted the interior of the mess hall, to include all walls, doors, electrical cabinets and windows.
"We cleaned everything from the plants at the top of the ceiling to the woodwork on the floor," said Ann Stainbrook, mess hall manager. "We would be dusting and the Marines would be painting, or the other way around."
The station facility was the last Marine Corps mess hall to be inspected, Dieken said, so they needed to be the best to overcome inspectors' half-formed ideas of who should win the award.
The extra hours and effort put into the mess hall were well worth it, according to Lance Cpl. Jill Carrion, food service specialist.
"All the work paid off," she said. "It was an acknowledgement of all that we had done. I'm not surprised we won, though. After all that work, I couldn't see anyone else winning."
Others were surprised at the outcome, especially knowing they were the last to be inspected.
"I was surprised," said Lance Cpl. Karam Hawkins. "You really had to be on your toes with all the inspectors around, but I just tried to stay myself, stay relaxed and follow the game plan."
"We looked good, we really did," Stainbrook said. "A lot of personality went into that inspection. All the cooks went that extra mile, and that's what did it."
The dining facility has already begun work for the next contest, she added.
"Wait until next year," Stainbrook said. "We're going to try and pull it off again."