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Face of Defense: Army Cooks Excel in Japan Bilateral Exercise

By Army Sgt. William Jones
118th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

CAMP SENDAI, Dec. 12, 2012 – Army reservists Spc. Tieka Jones, 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and Spc. Jasmine Gomez, 693rd Quartermaster Co., employed their culinary skills during a recent overseas duty training assignment here.

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Army Spc. Tieka Jones, a military food service specialist and reservist from Las Vegas with the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, makes final preparations for the dinner meal as part of the bilateral Yama Sakura 63 training exercise at Camp Sendai, Japan. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Jones

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The two soldiers and other troops who deployed with the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion added a lot of the special touches during the Yama Sukara 63 training exercise held here that made “chow” a little closer to what mom used to make.

Yama Sakura is a bilateral training exercise held twice a year with members of the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force and the U.S. military. Yama Sakura began 30 years ago. It is designed to enhance the combat readiness and interoperability between the two nations. American and Japanese service members exchange ideas, tactics, techniques and military experiences during the exercise, now in its 31st iteration.

When the 35th CSSB deployed to Japan to participate in this year’s Yama Sakura exercise, they did so with only a moderate-sized contingent of active-duty cooks and the rest of the team came from the reserve components. The part-time soldiers serving on active duty in support of the exercise quickly proved their worth as they prepared two hot meals each day for 800 men and women participating in the exercise.

The food service soldiers worked long hours performing their duties with excellence, officials said. Jones and Gomez made a point to make eye contact and greet each person as they went through the food line. Gomez was frequently seen lugging several heavy insulated food containers from the mobile kitchen trailer to the serving line several times during each meal.

The reservists’ outstanding contributions were noticed by Army Col. Nora Marcos, Deputy Chief of Staff and chief information officer for U.S. Army Japan, who recognized the soldiers during a recent staff meeting.

“Jones and Gomez have really worked hard while they were here at Camp Sendai and they both have a great attitude,” said Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Kessler, the dining facility manager. “Jones always has a smile and people have commented on that to me and you cannot outwork Gomez.”

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Related Sites:
Yama Sakura 63

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Lessons Learned Benefit U.S., Japan at Yama Sakura 63

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. Jasmine Gomez, a reservist with the 693rd Quartermaster Company, makes final preparations for the dinner meal during the bilateral Yama Sakura 63 training exercise at Camp Sendai, Japan. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Jones  
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