CAMP EDWARDS, Mass. -- While deployed, a forward operating base is a Soldiers’ home away from home. It goes without saying that an FOB should have all the comforts of home. National Guard procedure is to train as we fight, and Tactical Training Base Kelley is no different.
While participating in eXportable Combat Training Capability exercises, Soldiers on TTB Kelley at Camp Edwards live as they would during combat deployments on an FOB.
On TTB Kelley Soldiers have multiple ways to feel more at home, including well-cooked meals, access to Army and Air Force Exchange Service convenience store trailers and the Internet.
One of the best ways to feel at home is enjoying a well-cooked meal. The mess tent on TTB Kelley goes above and beyond normal expectaions to ensure the Soldiers’ happiness.
“We try to go all out for the guys,” said Sgt. Tammy Macha, a food service specialist with the 972nd Military Police Company, 211th Military Police Battalion. “We want it to be like home.”
The mess tent at TTB Kelley serves over 3,000 meals a day. Serving breakfast and dinner for the troops training at TTB Kelley requires near around-the-clock staffing. There are many jobs that must be done to ensure mess tent operations run smoothly.
One of the most important jobs is ensuring everything is cleaned and prepared. Throughout the day the focus is on sanitation, said Staff Sgt. Stenard D. Ross, a shift supervisor with the TTB Kelley mess tent.
The first shift for the cooks begins at one-thirty in the morning. After food is prepared for the meal, the Soldiers working in the mess tent start serving. Typical breakfast fare includes French toast, pancakes and eggs.
After breakfast is served the mess tent Soldiers begin restocking, receiving shipments and assisting with the distribution of meals ready to eat, or MREs, for lunch.
The evening shift starts at 10:30 a.m. The mess tent Soldiers continue with the supply work and begin preparing the evening meal. Dinner meals served include homemade pot roast, meatloaf and pork chops.
Special requests are not unheard of at TTB Kelley and the Soldiers at the mess tent are more than happy to try and make them happen.
“We try to accommodate for them,” said Macha. “They wanted apple juice; we got them apple juice.”
Overall there are 23 food service specialists from six different units working hard at the TTB Kelley mess tent to ensure that no one goes hungry and the Soldiers are properly fed.
Another way to make Soldiers feel at home is the AFFES trailer, which has a selection of snacks, drinks and comfort items such as ointments, pillows, socks and soap.
AFFES employees who have volunteered to work on TTB Kelley come from all over the state and they are more then happy to serve Soldiers staying on the TTB.
“We are here to make people happy,” said June Knochel, a four-year AAFES employee who usually works out of the Westover Air Force Base AAFES.
The AAFES trailer receives two shipments a week at TTB Kelley, but sometimes that isn’t enough as items can be sold out in as little as three hours, said Knochel.
Just because an item is sold out, however, that doesn’t mean the people at AAFES can’t get it for you.
Rabecka Pichette, a two-year employee of the Hanscom Air Force Base AAFES, said that, TTB Kelley AAFES employees will make runs to Hanscom AFB as needed to pick up items that Soldiers request.
Employees at the TTB Kelley AAFES trailer are proud to live the AAFES motto, “We go were you go.”
“We are just giving back to the Soldiers,” said Jamie Hollings, who has been working at the Hanscom AAFES for over a year.
Another important comfort of home made available to Soldiers on TTB Kelley is Internet access. Internet access comes in three forms: computers in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation tents, hard lines in the Soldiers’ living quarters and free Wi-Fi throughout the TTB.
The Internet on TTB Kelley allows Soldiers to check their e-mails, maintain their Army Knowledge Online accounts and surf the Web.
Staff Sgt. James W. O’Donoghue, the base operator with the Mayor’s Cell on TTB Kelley, who is usually assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, is pleased with the MWR computers’ efficiency, which is between 90 and 100 percent. “We’ve had little to no trouble with them,” he said.
TTB Kelley serves as a home away from home for Soldiers training during XCTC, just as FOBs do overseas. The hard work of the people behind the scenes at the TTB is reflected by the comforts of home provided to the Soldiers, making their time away from home a little more pleasant.