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A day in Bay Hill Galley, Gitmo 1968-1969 Guantanamo Bay Naval Base

I had the alarm set for 4:00 am to be in the galley for 4:30. It is already hot, as most every day on the island. I fill the big stainless coffee urns and have a cup myself. I drink it black. Then, from the recipe card, which is made for quantities of 200 portions, start the “soup of the day” in one of the big steam kettles. I will work with a wet towel around my neck and swallow the salt tablets from the dispenser that hangs on the wall. If working the grills I make eggs to order for the crew, some scrambled, some over light and some sunny side up. And some mornings, pancakes and sausage or French toast on the grill. Put hash browns, grits and pastries that the night baker has made, on the serving line. We fed about 300 for breakfast, about 1000 for lunch and about 2500 for the evening meal, as I recall. As soon as breakfast was over you started lunch and after lunch you started supper, all from the menu made up for that day by the Chief. All ingredients once again on the recipe cards and multiplying as needed from the 200 quantity as the cards indicated. One of my favorites was chili or spaghetti, making good mashed potatoes with lots of butter or meatloaf. Also savory baked chicken, marinated in soy sauce and then baked in the oven. I could be in the butcher shop deboning fresh hams for supper or in the store room breaking out the supplies of cans of food and boxes of ingredients for the next days meals. It was always nice to go into the big walk-in cooler to cool off for a short while. Working the grills, ovens, steam kettles, or making up salads, all part of a day which went until 6:00 pm. You tried to cook a good meal for the crew because it might make a happy time for somebody who was not having a good day, that day. Then, off for a shower and something cold to drink. Somebody else would wash up the pots and pans and utensils. Not the cooks job. Then it was soon time for the night baker to go to the galley to start baking the pastries for the next day. 

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Comment by Emmet Molloy on May 21, 2018 at 10:35pm

Thanks, yes it was very interesting. Only time I ever got to the NAS was coming or going when I first arrived  and when I left to be discharged at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. Also, when I was on leave either to Pennsylvania or Maryland. 

Comment by David De Rooy on May 21, 2018 at 10:29pm

That was interesting I'd always wondered what the AG 's did on the job. I just knew it had something to do with weather tracking

Comment by Terry L. Morris on May 21, 2018 at 9:27pm

I was at NAS McCalla Field, 1967 - 1968. I never ate at the Naval Station mess. I was an airdale, AG3 Weather Radiosonde Unit. My crew, supervisor and 2 workers, worked 2 days on, 2 days off shift. Up at 0430. Balloon with radiosonde aloft by 0600. Any problems with launch we had a one hour window to get the balloon aloft. At noon one of the team, had to be on the hill (my office) to send aloft a balloon for tracking by theodolite for winds report. Then the team was back at 1700 preparing for the 1800 radiosonde launch. A team member had to be back on the hill at 2300 preparing for another winds report launch.

Since my crew worked odd hours, we had chow privileges with the mess cooks. In the morning we ate with them as early as 0445. Everything was loose at that time of morning. I was too young to be a coffee drinker, so a tall glass of OJ and a couple glasses of milk were good for me. I learned from a cook how to crack eggs, one in each hand, and was permitted to make my own every morning just as they did. The team member that had to be on the hill ate noon chow at 1045-1100. The whole crew was back for dinner chow at 1630. As long as my team had duty I ate the early schedule with mess cooks. We made friends with the mess cooks. That was great duty.

Comment by Emmet Molloy on May 16, 2018 at 6:17pm

Thanks, it was a hot job, but it had it’s rewards in the time off and being able to go over to the galley at night and maybe make a sandwich or have a slice of leftover pie. I was lucky to never have had messcook duty as a seaman or having to work the scullery. In Cuba, the scullery work was performed by the Cubans or Jamaicans who lived on the base. They were all really great people to work with. 

Comment by David De Rooy on May 16, 2018 at 5:22pm

I enjoyed your share about a day in the life of a Navy galley. There was a lot of sweat involved in working around ovens, steam trays or steam kettles. Especially in a humid place like Cuba. Like every seaman on down we all had messcook duty when reporting to a new command I remember It wasn't that bad as long as you didn't end up in the scullery

Do any of you squids out there have any messcook stories?

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