They're few, they're proud, they are Marines food service personnel (aka Marine cooks) tasked with providing satisfying sustenance to warfighters in every clime and place, but not many people know about them or their capabilities.
1. The Marine Corps has cooks.
That's it... Most people are unaware of this. Marine occupational specialty MOS 3381 food service specialist — it's a thing.
2. Marine cooks rarely work in chow halls.
Marine Corps chow halls are contracted to Sodexo, the same company that provides prisons with their food service. The similarities may not surprise you. While Marines will sometimes augment chow halls, deployment schedule and support to infantry units is the primary job of most 3381s.
3. They are the people you want to know.
Everyone eats, which means Marine cooks network with everyone. If you want to know a guy who knows a guy that can make whatever happen, the cook is the only friend you need.
4. They control the Rip-Its and coffee in-country.
On deployments, the cooks control the inventory and dispersion of rations – to include not only all the food, but the drinks as well. Imagine quad-cons full of Rip-Its and coffee drinks. Befriend the gatekeeper and you can all live like kings.
5. They know the food isn't always good.
Field rations are created to endure both high and low temperatures for extended periods of time without going bad. It is meant to provide calories, not so much taste. This is why so many condiments are made available.
If your Marine cook had the time and resources to put out Michelin-star cuisine, he would. But until that miracle of supply and tax dollars happens, blame only yourself for enlisting and suck up what's available.
6. Some of them can cook really well.
There are multiple-day competitions held that involve both Marine and civilian teams competing for pride and prizes. These, along with inter-service competitions, have cultivated some real culinary talent among the ranks.
7. Marine cooks work when you're off.
You remember those mandatory fun days? You know, the ones where you had to show up to some lame cookout on a Saturday where officers and high enlisted wore polo shirts and above-the-knee khaki shorts with a braided belt and Oakleys? Yes?
Well, that guy cooking, cleaning, and serving the food has been there for hours and can't leave until everything is cleaned up, the trash is taken out, the trucks are turned back in, and everything is squared away.
Not to mention the Marines stuck working in a chow hall seven days a week.
Bonus! They deploy as far forward as people who need to eat.
This is Sam in Herat province, Afghanistan... Sam is a United States Marine, 3381 food service specialist, living his dream.