Paratroopers need fuel to meet the physical requirements of being an airborne Soldier. Those requirements could be a 12-mile road march a four-mile run, followed by three sets of pull-ups, or an airborne operation. The list of physical challenges the average paratrooper must meet is endless.

One of the main sources of that fuel is the food they eat. Who is responsible for feeding these hungry and hardworking paratroopers to ensure they can continue to meet those high standards — the 82nd Airborne Division’s food service specialists.

These paratroopers take field cooking to a new level; they road march, run, conduct airborne operations, and then set up a field kitchen and feed their battle buddy.

In recognition of these high-speed chefs, the 82nd Abn. Div. held its third, All American Food Service Airborne Rodeo, recently where more than 120 food service personnel jumped onto Sicily Drop Zone.

Master Sgt. Damita Jo Ellis, the division food service sergeant major, a jumper in the first rodeo in 1996 said, due to the division’s past deployment schedules, this was their best opportunity to reunite food service division Soldiers.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Tirado, a food service operations manager with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div., first heard about the opportunity to become an airborne Soldier in basic training. He went to Airborne School in 2006 after graduating from Advanced Individual Training.

“This food service (airborne) rodeo builds esprit de corps and cohesion throughout the division,” said Tirado.

This sentiment was shared by many of the participants.

“Jumping with the people you work with everyday, it motivates you,” said Spc. Jacqueline Fowler, a food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 82nd Abn. Div. “It was the best experience,” she said of her eighth jump.

Fellow food service specialists were on the ground to provide a meal of chicken, ribs and an abundance of sides for their airborne comrades and the Families who came out to observe and share in the meal that followed.

“It was awesome; the first time I have seen him (jump),” said Rebecca Seighman, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Jason Seighman, a 3rd BCT dining facility manager.

“It’s good to show we are more than just cooks,” said Sgt. 1st Class Seighman. In addition to the airborne operation, just a short distance from the drop zone was 1st Brigade Combat Team’s dining facility, competing in the Philip A. Connelly Evaluation to determine who the best food service professionals are in all of U.S. Forces Command.

Ellis said, “We have some of the most outstanding (paratroopers); always ready to accomplish the mission anytime, anyplace, and they reside in our dining facilities.”