INDIAN HEAD, Md. (NNS) -- Enjoying a holiday meal isn't always possible for service members, but the staff at the Naval Support Facility Indian Head Galley provided Marines and Sailors with a taste of home at a scrumptious Thanksgiving lunch Nov. 21.
A lot of love went into the meal, which featured clam chowder, roast turkey, spiral baked ham, shrimp cocktail, seasoned mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, corn and of course, lots of desserts. The galley also catered to retired military members and civilians employees, who lined up to enjoy the feast.
Preparation for the special meal began the night before and continued after breakfast, with galley staff washing, chopping, cooking and decorating. As the lunch hour drew near, reinforcements arrived in the form of additional galley employees.
By 10 a.m., the pace in the kitchen reached a crescendo as staff buzzed,completing a long list of last-minute tasks.
Marines and Sailors assigned to the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force arrived as soon as the galley doors opened. When it was over, galley staff had served 204 pounds of turkey and 103 pounds of ham.
By all accounts, the food was delicious, the portions generous and the urge to nap after the meal overwhelming. In other words, the galley accomplished its mission with gusto.
"I know they're away from home," said Beverly Keys, lead cook at the NSF Indian Head Galley, describing her love for her service member customers. "I consider them my family. You get to know them on a personal level by talking to them every day. We do anything we can to make them feel comfortable, make them feel happy and make them feel like they are home, even though they're away."
Keys' love of cooking is a family affair and she credits her role models for much of her culinary success.
"My Aunt Ruth, my Aunt Mary and of course my grandmother, who spoiled me rotten and always had me in the kitchen when I was growing up," she said. While preparing a large holiday meal is no small task, Keys said the galley's team work makes it all possible.
"The ordering of the food...we have to do the math to figure out how many portions of food we need to prepare,[but] the challenges aren't too bad because we all pool together and work as a team to get the job done. We channel all our energy together."
Of course, it isn't just civilian employees whose efforts make special meals possible. Keys said the considerable experience of the culinary specialist Sailors assigned to the galley makes a big impact.
"When they come [here] from deployment, they're willing to come in and jump right in there," she said. "They have no problem doing anything, from the smallest task to the largest task. The civilians and the military work well together; we're a great team. I'm very proud to be a part of it."
That feeling is mutual for the Sailors at the galley. "We're fortunate that we have a great civilian staff," said Chief Culinary Specialist Corey Glenn, food service officer.
Though providing service members with an outstanding holiday meal requires a lot of planning, coordination and good old-fashioned hard work, it is also highly rewarding. Glenn understands more than most the importance of serving those who serve.
"Put it this way, this is the first time in my Navy career that I'll be able to be home for Thanksgiving," he said, smiling.
"Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are the most important meals you'll serve in your Navy career as a [culinary specialist]. Those two meals are when you really get to do something special for your customers... that's what I enjoy most."
For more news from Naval Support Activity South Potomac, visit www.navy.mil/local/NSASP/.