By Jennifer Greene, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 22, 2009
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
With floors like a giant black and white checker board, an easy to read plasma television to greet visitors with menu and pricing information and large windows,the decor of the Ozark Inn is very open and inviting. Every area of the establishment is spotless and nutritional information is posted throughout the Inn so nothing is considered 'mystery meat'. A table in honor of the POW/MIA is always set.
Mrs. Petra Purdy, Crystal Enterprises contract civilian, is part of that openness as she welcomes everyone with a smile. Ms. Purdy has been an employee since Oct. 1993. Her German accent is apparent as she tells of travels, including a food oriented apprenticeship in Guam. Like her co-workers she performs many duties on various shifts and is currently working on the food line.
"I like that there is a nice variety in my day to day activities," Mrs. Purdy said.
With breakfast, lunch, dinner and a moonlight service, who would have guessed that turkey nuggets could be the most tedious food to prepare? According to the staff at the Ozark Inn Dining Hall this is exactly the case. They take time, but rumor has it, they are delicious. Favorites on the lunch and dinner menu are the cordon blue, catfish and hot wings with an emphasis on fried foods.
"The customers love anything fried," said Staff Sgt. Danielle Mullins, 509th Force Support Squadron, food journeyman.
Other options for dining include; a fresh salad bar, chili and soup, a grill with made to order items, as well as comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. Make sure to save room for dessert as they now have soft serve chocolate ice cream.
Preparing and serving food to hungry enlisted personnel requires the efforts of many. With a monthly bill in excess of $69,000 it can be costly as well. The hours are flexible to accommodate most schedules.
"It is good for morale to get a good meal at this time of night," said Master Sgt. Robert Granum, 509th Security Forces Squadron flight chief who works the midnight shift.
A mixture of military, civilian and contractor's work hard to provide delicious meals for enlisted personnel everyday including holidays. The Ozark Inn is open on holidays with Thanksgiving being the busiest. During the 442nd Unit Training Assembly weekends they serve more than 1000 Reserve Airmen's mouths in a three hour period.
Master Sgt. Kevin Greensage, 509th Force Support Squadron, food service section chief, has brought leadership and direction that has instilled pride and ownership to a "great food service team" said Captain Joseph Harris, 509th Force Support Squadron, Sustainment Services flight commander. Sergeant Greensage has knowledge in all areas of food service home-station and deployed, as well as prior work in the 509th Logistics Readiness squadron
"Job wise, readiness is my forte, but I love mentoring Airmen," said Sergeant Greensage. "20 of those Airmen are currently deployed."
"Food service is my forte'," said Tech. Sgt Robert Hale, 509th Force Support Squadron, dining facility NCOIC.
Sergeant Hale worked in food service from 1991-1999 and has returned after a stint in the Readiness section as well. He was part of the Ozark team that won three consecutive John L. Hennessy awards. This award is given to best food service operation in the Air Force. He personally won a Hennessy Traveler Award out of 15 nominees from various bases.
According to Captain Miller, there is a legendary story that accompanies the dynamic duo of Master Sgt Greensage and Tech. Sgt Hale that alludes the two of them are capable of preparing a meal only being equipped with butter and a Bic lighter.
Meet some of the Ozark Team
Airman Scott Yager, 509th Force Support Squadron food journeyman, has eight months of military service under his belt. He listed Whiteman Air Force Base on his dream sheet and here he is. His love affair with cooking began with his grandmother.
"My grandmother taught me to cook. Everything she makes is good but I would say my favorite is roast beef," Yager said.
Christina Hayes, Crystal Enterprise civilian contractor, is the newest addition to the Ozark staff. Having only been employed for one week she is still learning the ropes, though she does have prior service experience.
"This is the best food service job I have worked on base, especially the people I work with and for," she said.
Corinna Whelermann is the project manager for Crystal Enterprises Inc., the contractor working with the dining facility today. She began her career with the Ozark Inn as the assistant project manager in 1996 and currently employs 35 staff members.
Mike Robinson, a 20 year supervisor at the Ozark Inn, is one of the contracted staff. He has seen many faces come and go and loves working with people.
"If a person can give me 100 percent but it is not their all, I would rather take a person who gives me 70 percent if that is their maximum ability," Mr. Robinson said.
Some challenges that the Ozark Inn staff face include food allergies, requests, various religious restrictions and common misconceptions. Sergeant Greensage and his crew try and cater to customer requests and comment cards, but not all wishes can be granted. Leftovers being served from one meal to another are not a common occurrence. There may be a few dishes that are carried over from lunch to dinner but a new menu is served at each meal.
There are many things on the horizon for the dining facility. Sergeant Greensage and Sergeant Hale are trying to form an advisory council like the Mission's End collocated club, as well as hosting quarterly birthday celebrations and a Mongolian style barbeque, all of which are still in the works.
With a focus on customer service, the Ozark Inn staff is on a mission to attain the highest standards of food service, Captain Harris said. Their professionalism, expertise, and dedication continue to ensure Whiteman's mission will never falter nor fail.