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Face of Defense: Chef Feeds New Horizons Troops

By Army Maj. Scott Bell
Task Force Kout Men

MANDERIN, Haiti, June 30, 2010 – Normally, a hot meal for servicemembers working in austere conditions means warming up a field rations package that includes a dinner, dessert and a snack.

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Larey, a Louisiana National Guard member and the head cook for Task Force Kout Men, serves up an authentic Louisiana-style meal to troops of the New Horizons-Haiti 2010 training exercise in Haiti. Larey trained as a chef at the Peabody Hotel and BB King’s in Memphis, Tenn., and Dragos restaurant in New Orleans. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Scott Bell

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

But for the 500 troops of Task Force Kout Men serving in a New Horizons humanitarian exercise here, chow time is a treat.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Larey, a member of the Louisiana National Guard and owner of Louisiana Cooking Services in New Orleans, is serving his Cajun cuisine out of a 24-by-20-foot kitchen trailer.

“I look forward to seeing all the troops smiling when they come in here each night,” said Larey, who trained for his third chef discipline -- Cajun and Creole -- at Dragos in New Orleans. “My cooking staff takes great pride in the fact these soldiers, sailors and airmen look forward to supper each night.”

Larey wasn’t always a cook in the Louisiana National Guard. He began his career in the military as an engineer, and then he became a truck driver. He said he knows what it’s like to run a shovel on a backhoe all day or drive a truck for long hours in the heat and humidity with no air conditioning.

“I also remember how nice it was to come in after a long day at work to a hot meal at night,” he added.

Larey said those memories are what drives him to continue to serve in the Louisiana Guard and to do his best to make sure every military member he feeds knows he or she is appreciated.

“I’m sure not doing this for the money,” he said.


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