Jun 15, 2012

Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids: Army cook puts food on the table, keeps Soldiers motivated

Written by  U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nick Morales, RC-East PAO
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shkeila Milford, the BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shkeila Milford, the U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Nick Morales, RC-East PAO

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When we think of the war in Afghanistan, we often think of the war fighter. A line from The Soldier’s Creed comes to mind: I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. But what about supporting units? The Soldiers providing beans, bullets and Band-Aids assist the war fighter in accomplishing their everyday duties on the battlefield. 

Food service specialists assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-1 Commanding General’s Mess have the responsibility of preparing 5,400 meals a week. Their work keeps servicemembers’ bellies happy and helps out morale with some good eats.

Staff Sgt. Shkeila Milford, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the dining facility, and a native of St. Stephen, S.C., has the daunting task of planning and preparing meals, as well as training the next generation of food service Soldiers.

Milford has 12 Soldiers under her leadership and all of them have different levels of experience in the kitchen.

“I have some Soldiers who have never cooked before, and while that’s challenging, they step up and complete each task motivated and excited that they have put a meal together from start to finish,” said Milford.

Milford takes the hands-on approach to leadership: she’s in the kitchen chopping, sautéing and baking right alongside her “Joe’s.”

“It’s one thing telling someone to do something, it’s another thing showing my Soldiers how to conduct business,” said Milford.

In 2003, Milford enlisted in the Army with some inspiration from her brother who just returned from a deployment as a Marine. 

Just shy of 10 years of service, Milford has achieved quite a bit. She has been deployed three times, served as a drill sergeant and is currently studying for the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Board.  It’s leaders like Milford that keep Soldiers grounded in Army tradition while setting them up for success.

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