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Burger King, Pizza Hut Open Doors at Balad Air Base

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2004 – Airmen here finally can have it their way, with the opening of Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants Oct. 10.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Airmen from the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing wait in line during the grand opening of Burger King and Pizza Hut restaurants run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Balad Air Base, Iraq, Oct. 10. Photo courtesy of AAFES

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

Lines started forming outside the two fast-food restaurants about 9 a.m., an hour before the grand opening.

"It was a great turnout," said Terry McCoy, Army and Air Force Exchange Service's chief of Operation Iraqi Freedom food programs. "Everybody worked hard, and it came off very well."

At any given time throughout the day, at least 50 to 75 people were waiting in line for a taste of golden fries or pizza.

"This is a good morale boost for sure," said Airman 1st Class Stephanie Heck, 332nd Expeditionary Operational Support Squadron. "It's also nice to have a little something from back home." Heck waited for about an hour for a Whopper, but she didn't mind a bit. "It was definitely worth the wait," she said.

Others were just looking for a little change of pace from the everyday routine. "It's good to get away from the (dining facility) for once," said Staff Sgt. Ephrain Alvarez, 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group.

"This is definitely better than an MRE," said Airman Eric Phlipot of Detachment 6, 732nd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron, referring to "meals, ready- to-eat" field rations.

"(Phlipot) woke me up early today and said, 'We're going,'" said Airman 1st Class Brian Young, also assigned to Detachment 6. "We've been waiting for quite a while, but it will be worth it."

McCoy said airmen can expect more, with the Subway chain opening a restaurant at Balad in the future.

"It makes it all worthwhile supporting the troops," he said. "We're just glad we can give them a little taste of home."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen is assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs office.)

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Army and Air Force Exchange Service

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