UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Lucky soldiers get nearly home-cooked meals in Baghdad

ARCENT (3rd Army) News

Release Date: 7/22/2003

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Conrad College 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD, IRAQ (July 22, 2003) - Sgt. April Denise Brown just loves to cook, so, a few months ago, when she was asked to serve as the cook for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 352nd Civil Affairs Command in Baghdad, she was happy to oblige.

The civil affairs soldiers are happy, too, because, thanks to Brown and a few other soldiers, the unit is now getting practically home-cooked meals for dinner, six days a week.

The 352nd Civil Affairs Command is an Army Reserve unit out of Riverdale, Md.

From fried chicken to lasagna to apple cobbler, and from fresh tossed salads to fruit salads, the dinners prepared by Brown and her helpers are always a treat for the civil affairs soldiers, who certainly look forward to sitting down to a home-cooked meal at the end of a hot and dangerous day in Baghdad.

Brown said she cooks a lot back home in Maryland, where she lives in Glen Burnie and works for the U.S. Postal Service in Odenton, which is near Fort Meade. "I've been cooking since I was 15," she said. "My mother was a single parent so we had to learn to cook if we wanted to eat."

Besides her full-time civilian job at the postal service, Brown does some catering on the side. "I cook for weddings, receptions and change-of-command ceremonies -- anything from cakes to eight-course meals," she said. "But I am not really a cook in the Army, by military occupational specialty (MOS), I am an administrative specialist," she said.

However, when the unit deployed from Maryland to Iraq, the first day they were here, some soldiers asked Brown, "Can you please fix us something to eat?" She said she would try and she's been cooking in Baghdad ever since then, she said.

The meals are very good, according to Sgt. Maj. Dan Anderson, deputy resource manager for the 352nd. "Really the food is as good as in any restaurant," he said.

The soldiers are continually surprised at how tasty the meals are, calling them home-cooking, although some of the rations come from the U.S. frozen but partly cooked.

"Is there a culinary award for someone who's not in the culinary arts?" asked Lt. Col. Mary Ann King, information coordinator for the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center in Baghdad. "She really takes pride in her work. She enjoys her work," King said.

Brown has great help from Staff Sgt. Giselle Tapia in the kitchen and Spc. Eric Lopez, driver. They get their food from the ration point at the Army's main Baghdad base at the Baghdad International Airport.

"All of the food, except breads and drinks, comes from the United States, and we use only bottled water for cooking," Brown said with a smile. "So we know it's safe and we make it tasty. This is the place to come for a good home-cooked dinner, thousands of miles from home."

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list