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Aragon named best in AFSPC

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Most Airmen probably don't notice what goes on around them in the Aragon Dining Facility. They have jobs to do. They need a meal so they can get back to supporting their missions.

For employees at the DFAC, making sure all these people have a good meal is their mission, and at the Aragon Dining Facility, they do it better than anyone else in Air Force Space Command.

The Aragon Dining Facility recently won the AFSPC nomination for the John L. Hennessy Award for Best Food Excellence in the Air Force.

"It's the first time in over 10 years we've had the nomination," said Master Sgt. Jason Merriam, 21st Force Support Squadron food services superintendent.

The last time Aragon won the nomination was in 2001.

The mission of the dining facility may get overlooked by some, but they are an important component of wartime readiness.

"We go to war, we set up food operations and dining tents. We hand out (Meals Ready to Eat)," Merriam said. "People have to eat."

Master Sgt. Porter Gee, 21st FSS section chief, said the Aragon Dining Facility keeps busy serving the Peterson AFB community.

"We're a little bit different because we support Reserve units. We go up against a lot of bases who just have a single war-time mission. We support ourselves, we support the Reserves, we also support Cheyenne Mountain (Air Force Station)," he said.

The staff at the Aragon is also different in another way.

"A lot of bases are going into contracting and what's called food transformation. There's no military, or there's very few military, in those facilities," Gee said. "The majority are military here in our facility. It's pretty unique."

According to Gee, the DFAC serves about 400 people a day during the week and about 100 meals on the weekend.

The Aragon Dining Facility also provides support to Schriever and Buckley Air Force Bases by storing MREs for them. "We hold onto that type of stuff for them, so when they need it we are accountable to it for them," Gee said.

A staff of 65, including 35 civilians and 30 active duty members, keeps the dining facility in tip-top shape.

According to Merriam, to win the western division nomination and move on to compete at the Air Force level, the Aragon Dining Facility must first undergo a thorough inspection of the facility covering everything from cleanliness to management. He said it's important every piece is in order.

Merriam said the 21st Medical Group Public Health already comes in once a month to do their inspection.

"We also do our own self inspections once a week. We're going to bump that up now to twice a week," he said, to prepare for the inspection.

The inspection for the John L. Hennessy Award will happen in late January or early February. The winner will be announced in April.

Regardless of what happens now, Gee and Merriam are both excited to have the trophy for the AFSPC nomination on display at the Aragon Dining Facility.

"We are proud," Merriam said. "We are very, very proud."

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui