America Supports You: Couple Supports Troops With Banana Bread
By Spc. Claude Flowers, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Oct. 18, 2005 Albert Davis of Largo, Fla., may have retired from the U.S. Navy in 1973, but he's still serving his country and doing all that he can for the military. For the last 15 years, he and his wife Barbara have been diligently baking loaves of banana bread for American troops serving around the world.
U.S. Navy veteran Albert Davis shares a laugh with servicemembers after a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 14. Since 1990, Al and his wife, Barbara, have personally baked over 75,000 loaves of banana bread for U.S. troops serving around the world. Photo by Spc. Claude Flowers, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Seven an hour, 94 per day, every day --- so many that on Oct. 14 the couple presented Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, with their 75,000th loaf during a ceremony here.
The Davises began baking pumpkin bread in 1988 for patients at the MacDill Air Force Base hospital.
"It wasn't every week," Barbara explained. "It might be on the holidays -- Thanksgiving, Halloween."
The launch of Operation Desert Shield in 1990 prompted the couple to move in a new direction once they heard reports that troops weren't eating a potassium-rich diet.
"They were having problems with bananas rotting on the pallets in the desert. That's when we started making the banana bread," Barbara said. "We developed a recipe; we had it checked. It was good, really high potassium-content banana bread. It tasted good. It took us two months to get a recipe that would hold together."
Even after Desert Storm ended, the Davises continued to cook. Today, servicemembers participating in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are the recipients of the couple's generosity.
"It's funny. As I travel around the theater, I see the loaves of banana bread all over the place," Abizaid said. "I've seen them in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in other places, and I've certainly seen them in our headquarters."
The couple started delivering to CENTCOM's Tampa headquarters in 2002. That September, they presented then-commander Gen. Tommy Franks with their 25,000th loaf.
"General Franks received us so humbly," Barbara said. "To this day, we try to take him bread."
The Davises begin their work each day before dawn, making every loaf by hand. Their high standard of quality control even includes shaving the bananas. "There are no strings attached," Al said. "The strings on the bananas would make the bread tougher."
The Davises now have their aspirations set on baking 100,000 loaves. Gratefulness keeps them motivated.
"With the military protecting our shores and the world in general, we at home can do nothing better than to support them," Al said. "We have the best military in the world. We need good citizens to stand behind them and support them. They do a fantastic job, they really do. Together, we shine."
At the ceremony, Abizaid told the Davises that their hard work is appreciated.
"On behalf of all of us at CENTCOM, thanks for all of your support. We can't win the war without the support of the American people. When people go over and above the call of duty like you folks have done, we can only give you our eternal gratitude."
(Army Spc. Claude Flowers is assigned to U.S. Central Command.)