Missile chef: More than meets the tummy
By Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 21, 2014
MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- In June 2013, he was preparing to skip his high school graduation in Williamsport, Penn., in order to attend Air Force Basic Military Training.
His life today is vastly different than it was just a year ago. For even now, he's miles from what he now calls home - Great Falls, Mont.
Somewhere in the austere environment of Malmstrom Air Force Base's 13,800-square-mile missile complex, Airman 1st Class Brian Roupp, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, is busy at work providing one of the most vital necessities for those deployed to a missile alert facility: nutrition.
Before his three-day tour to the missile complex starts, he must attend daily chef training, a pre-departure briefing at Bldg. 500 and a mission planning brief with the 341st Operations Group. He then must stop at base supply to pick up cleaning supplies to sanitize the MAF kitchen. His last stop before making the long drive to a MAF is perhaps the most important - picking up food at the Centralized Distribution Section to ensure the kitchen is sufficiently supplied.
After arriving at the MAF, he replaces a chef who has completed a 72-hour tour.
"When I first arrive at the MAF, there is a changeover; one Airman is relieved and one comes on duty," Roupp said. "Once the kitchen is signed over to me, I am the sole person responsible for cooking, cleaning and maintaining the kitchen during my three-day tour."
Because Airmen are in such close proximities at a MAF, Roupp says he enjoys the opportunity to build professional relationships - despite the fact that most of his job is done alone.
"I get to see different people and interact with security forces members, crew members and
really get to know them," he said. "That's the best part of my job; that - and the amount of responsibility I am given as a young Airman. Since we are the only person responsible for the kitchen, we are in charge of all the duties that make it function - this includes money for the cash register, receiving, storing and ordering subsistence and taking inventory."
Although manning of the MAF dictates the number of meals Roupp must prepare, on average, he prepares 30 meals each day during his tour.
"My favorite food to prepare is quesadillas - I get a lot of positive feedback when I make those," he said. "That's a nice thing about being a missile chef; I like to get creative. Cooking at the MAF is more unique and original to [the chef], because we can get more creative because it is all individually prepared, as opposed to having a set schedule."
But making customers happy isn't all that Roupp aims for, as his dedication to the Air Force was foretelling during his time spent in technical school, where he earned a 99 percent GPA and was named the single top graduate of his class.
"He's a young Airman and he's already performing above and beyond his peers," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Smith, 341st FSS MAF NCO in charge. "Thirty days ago, he was evaluated on his job knowledge and performance, and he received the highest score possible with absolutely zero deviations."
Services Airmen responsibilities include providing food, lodging, fitness and readiness. Following a directive from 20th Air Force in February, missile chefs formerly belonging to ICBM wings' missile squadrons became FSS personnel. This change is expected to improve chef evaluations, quality of standards for the services they provide and career progression. In order to advance to the rank of staff sergeant, Airmen must be certified in two of the functional areas.
Although Roupp will only have the opportunity to post out to the missile complex for two years, he continues to provide quality, safe food for Team Malmstrom.
"I knew the Air Force was a great career opportunity to expand myself while also creating a stable living environment for me," he said. "I may be a young Airman, but I'm already learning, adjusting and growing."
When Roupp isn't cooking, cleaning or maintaining a MAF kitchen with pride, he utilizes the MAF treadmill, studies his career development course textbooks and stays connected with family and friends back home.