“An army marches on its stomach.” – Napoleon
I have to agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I believe the Emperor means that food is motivation; food is morale. Food is comfort in an uncomfortable situation. When you are thousands of miles away from home, are filthy, sweaty, and exhausted, a bit of food can make all the difference in the world between giving you the will to go on and wanting to give up and quit.
I remember once being on a field training exercise where our food intake was limited to the main course of one MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat) per day. We took a brief break on our patrol, and I decided that then was as good a time as any to eat my dinner. I grabbed the olive drab green foil pack, ripped the top off, and something stunk like death. After gagging a little, I stuck in my plastic spoon to find a brownish, semi-liquid stinky mess. Somehow (and I’ve eaten a million MREs), the food was spoiled. Maybe bacteria got in there when it was packaged or something, but it was totally inedible. That has never happened before or since. I was furious in a way you can only be when you are hungry. There was no comfort. There was no extra entree anywhere for me to chow down on. I just had to be ticked off and suck it up for another day before I could eat. No problem, I could have suffered worse fates, but missing that meal affected my whole day.
Talking with SOFREP Editor-In-Chief Sean Spoonts about this story, he told me that in the navy, ships and duty stations were actually rated on the quality of their food. Sailors with orders to a particular ship or station would ask their shipmates if any had served there, and how the food was. Spoonts stated that the best chow he had in the navy on five different bases and three ships was Pensacola Naval Air Station. The worst was at NAS Millington Tennessee in the 1980s, “They served us rabbit in barbeque sauce. It looked like half of a headless and dead cat covered in blood.” he said.