New mess hall competes for William P.T. Hill Trophy
By Cpl. Keenan Zelazoski, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Throughout history, successful men have detailed ‘the grind,’ or the price of success, whether it be starting a successful business or winning the Super Bowl.
Get up. Get dressed. Another early morning in the Marine Corps is kicked off with the usual run or trip to the gym, leading into a day filled with plenty of work to be done. Like any other well-oiled machine, the Corps needs to be properly fueled to perform the daily duties.
Last year, service members were provided with yet another facility to choose from when the 22-area mess hall was built. Now, approximately a year and five months later, the mess hall is one of the best on the West Coast.
“The food is always better here,” said Cpl. Dylan Ching, an embarkation specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, who goes from the 25-area to the 22-area to eat every day.
The facility hosts the only drive-thru window at a chow hall on this side of the Mississippi, a walk-in window and a spacious dining area, enabling it to service more than 2,000 Marines at any given meal. A walk-in window is a feature in which Marines are able to walk up to the window, much like a drive-thru, and order their food to-go.
“It’s convenient to be able to just drive through and pick up breakfast on my way back to the barracks after working out every morning,” said Ching.
According to Ching, his favorite thing about the mess hall is that numerous Marines are able to eat there, but it is never crowded.
The facility was nominated in their opening year to represent their region in a series of inspections used to determine the best garrison chow hall in the Marine Corps. Although the team wasn’t able to bring home the William P.T. Hill Trophy in the last competition, they are ambitious this year as the inspections kick off again.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason Davis is the operations officer of base food service with Headquarters and Support Battalion, here.
“It is an honor and a privilege when your mess hall is nominated,” said Davis, an inspector who remembers what it was like to be on the other side when he was an enlisted food service Marine. “For us as a community, it was always about bragging rights. At the end of the day it is about providing the best customer service and food for Marines to enjoy.”
The inspections are graded on 11 categories. According to Davis, the most important are sanitation, food acceptability; management and food preparation.
Terrence Mason is the general manager of the facility and won the prestigious award at another mess hall once before.
“Our top three features here are the customer service, food quality and a beautiful building,” said Mason. “If you have those three things, you can win the W.P.T. Hill trophy.”
Any mess hall across the Marine Corps can compete, but only the best are selected from the initial inspection to be inspected by Headquarters Marine Corps in January.
“Our whole mission is to ensure Marines are being served,” said Mason. “As many as possible, as well as we can.”
For employees like Mason, who work hard to ensure service members are being served appropriately and efficiently, the prestigious W.P.T. Hill trophy embodies everything their facility should be, and it means everything to them.