Louisiana Marines enjoy taste of home

3 Aug 2003 | Army Sgt. Chris Carney

Smoke rose from the battered concrete hangers at Blair Field Aug. 3, where the New Orleans, La. based 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment is assigned.

However, a fire alarm wasn't raised and there was no need for the Marines to panic, rather, it was the first outdoor barbeque for the reservists who temporary call Al Kut home.

"It's a battalion cookout," said Master Sgt. James Stafford, from Atlanta, Georgia. Stafford, dining facility manager for Headquarters and Service Company, said that hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken were given out to the different companies and support units.

The occasion did boast a touch from home, however. A special Louisiana dish of jambalaya was sent via the Key Volunteers Network, a family support group for the battalion.  The group, made up of Marines' family members, helps them communicate with each other and keeps them up-to-date on deployed loved ones, said Stafford.

During one of the group's contacts with battalion members, the Marines relayed that they missed the Cajun dish jambalaya, which is a popular in Louisiana.

Key Volunteers decided to make their loved ones happy and send the spicy fare to Iraq.

"They sent over all of the ingredients for jambalaya," said Stafford. "And we threw it together."

"It gives the cooks a chance to cook," said Cpl. Bryan Delchamps, a chef from New Orleans, Louisiana and a cook for H&S Company.

He said that the jambalaya is definitely a very popular dish back home and most cooks know how to prepare it.

The companies and supporting units were given the special jambalaya and then the food that each group would cook over a grill.

Having the outdoor grill gives sections a chance to do something together, said Stafford.

Stafford said he is glad that he and his cooks could help make the Marines feel better with a home cooked meal.

"For us it's common to be cooking but its nice to be able to do something for the Marines."