As many of you know, Walter Reed will be closing in a year, so Cooking with the Troops' president Bob Miller wanted this last memorial barbecue to be a special one. Bob's been doing these since about 2005, after all. Thanks to a number of volunteers and sponsors, the barbecue on the 10th was indeed a day to remember as more than 50 pounds of chicken, 20 pounds of pulled pork barbecue, 10 pounds of brats, some 20 pounds of slaw, and probably about that much squash and onion -- along with cupcakes donated by Rockstar Confections -- were consumed by a very happy crowd.
What started as eight steam trays, as seen in the first photo, ended up much reduced, with no meat left and only a very small amount of slaw, squash, and a few cupcakes left. Based on the crowd count and the number of plates used, more than 250 plates of food went out to our wounded and caregivers. It was both funny and touching to see people calling buddies who couldn't come over and getting orders to take to them.
We had a large number of Marines in house, which delighted Bob (a Marine vet) no end. One of the nicest things about the barbecues at Walter Reed is having your "customers" able to come back and check on things, talk, and visit even as cooking is underway. Some of our troops are not shy at all, and very interested in seeing what's going on.
This was the view I had most often from the second grill and camp stove station as we worked to keep up with the demand. Not a bad sight at all. I do wish we could have gotten photos of the Segways parked to one side at one point. A number of the amputees have been given them, and it can be interesting to watch them racing around the walkways on them. One gentleman showed a great deal of panache as he whipped into the barbecue, parked, and quickly got in line. Very agile on his new leg...
After an hour or so, the line died down a bit, but traffic was steady up until the meat was gone. It timed out fairly well on that, and there was little left to pack up at the end.
The day would not have been possible without all the volunteers and sponsors. The lady in the center is Chef Ellen Adams, a 20-year Air Force veteran who used her education benefits to become a professional chef. She and her husband (right, also an Air Force veteran) flew down for the day to help out. We are delighted to have both of them (even if he does own a Mooney, the fink *G*) as a part of Cooking with the Troops. Along with the other volunteers, they helped keep things moving along and dealing with the delights that go with an event like this. A volunteer from SWAG Specialties also needs to be thanked for grabbing the camera and taking a number of the shots seen here. Huge thanks to all the volunteers who brought food, helped cook, serve, and made the day the success it was.
We also want to thank Baen Books, who not only donated money for the event, but a box of books to give to the wounded. We have no idea how fast the latter went, only that the box went out early and was empty when anyone had a chance to look again.
Our thanks to all who made this possible, from donors to volunteers. We are already working with the fine folks at Walter Reed on a spring event, and on a summer "going away" event as well. With your help and support, we will make them even larger successes.