38 Service Battalion Dusts off their Flying Kitchen

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Article / September 20, 2016

By 2Lt Stacie Nelles, 38 CBG PAO

From his very first day on the job with 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG), Sergeant (Sgt) Michael Louvelle’s top priority was to restore the unit’s four Field Kitchens to serviceability in time to serve hot meals to soldiers at Exercise BISON WARRIOR 2016 (Ex BW 16).

Sgt Louvelle, a 15-year Regular Force veteran, posted to 38 Service Battalion (38 Svc Bn) from Gagetown, New Brunswick in August 2015 as the unit’s Chief Cook, implemented his plan to restore 38 Svc Bn's ability to begin serving hot meals in the field in time for Ex BW 16.

Over the next eight months Sgt Louvelle and his two reserve cooks, Corporal Sang Chin and Private Azeena Harder, set themselves to the task of removing the grease, oil, rust and dust from the trailers.

 “We worked in them before so when we saw the state they were in, we knew there was going to be a lot of scrubbing,”  Corporal Chin noted.

The hard work paid off and the Field Kitchen saw its first successful deployment in four years during Exercise BISON RECON 22-24 April 16 enabling 38 Svc Bn to incorporate the Field Kitchen into its planning for Ex BW 16

This past August Sgt Louvelle, Cpl Chin and Pte Harder were the three-person crew in Dundurn, Saskatoon serving fresh cooked breakfast and dinner to more than one hundred soldiers: directly through the Field Kitchen and via hay boxes to units in the field.

Soldiers benefitting from this hard work have high praise for the tremendous amount of work and energy required to prepare the hot meals they enjoyed.

He’s got three people doing the work of ten,”  said Warrant Officer (WO) Troy Benko.

 “The quality of food is excellent,”  echoed by Sgt Jeff Milton, Regimental Quartermaster for 38 Svc Bn,   “When the alternatives are hay boxes from the main kitchens or IMPs, who wouldn’t prefer eggs made to order?” 

“The food is “better than I would make at home,” WO Benko agreed. 

Cpl Chin remarked that despite the long hours, rising at 3:30 a.m. to start breakfast and working until 10:00 p.m. each night that he felt proud of his contribution to the exercise.

 “Overall I feel very satisfied, with what I’ve learned and accomplished.” 

When asked what the success in restoring the Flying Kitchen to serviceability means to him, Sgt Louvelle’s thoughts turn immediately to his two protégés in the trailers.   “My concern is for these guys. They’re part-timers, but they want to do this trade. What I’d like to see is one of them move up to my position.” 

His satisfaction stems from seeing the pride that Pte Harder and Cpl  Chin have in the hard work that led to this success. The twinkle in his eyes betrays the pride that he obviously feels as well.

Post script: Sgt Louvelle was awarded the Commander’s Coin from General Hetherington, 3 Canadian Division, as well as a Commander’s Commendation from Colonel Geoff Abthorpe, Commander of 38 Canadian Brigade Group.

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