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Bringing home cooking to the missile complex

Airman 1st Class Victoria Camargo, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, prepares food at a missile alert facility Oct. 18, 2019, near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

Airman 1st Class Victoria Camargo, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, prepares food at a missile alert facility Oct. 18, 2019, near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. As a missile chef, Camargo is responsible for providing nutrition to Airmen at the MAF. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Airman 1st Class Victoria Camargo, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, walks toward her living quarters at a missile alert facility Oct. 18, 2019, near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana.

Airman 1st Class Victoria Camargo, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, walks toward her living quarters at a missile alert facility Oct. 18, 2019, near Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. Missile chefs can live at the MAF for upward of six days at a time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

Across Malmstrom’s 13,800 square-mile missile complex, hundreds of Airmen head to missile alert facilities and launch facilities every week to ensure the continued success of the wing’s mission.

While being away from home for days at a time, missile chefs provide missile field Airmen with a home-cooked meal.

Airman 1st Class Victoria Camargo, 341st Force Support Squadron missile chef, is one of many missile chefs providing defenders, missileers and maintainers with nutrition away from home.

“As a missile chef, I provide nutrition to the personnel at the MAF and also serve as a morale officer,” said Camargo. “We make sure we are serving the right portions of food and that everything on the menu is available.”

Prior to leaving for a MAF, missile chefs have a few tasks to accomplish base-side.

“Before we head out to a MAF, we call the chef there to ask if they need any money, supplies, food or anything else,” said Camargo. “We then head over to the central distribution section with the missileers.”

The CDS is responsible for preparing all food and supplies at MAFs, as well as serving as an accountant for the missile chefs.

According to Camargo, after changing over with the previous missile chef at the MAF, day-to-day operations are fairly routine.

“Breakfast starts at six in the morning, so we have to be up early to start prepping the food,” said Camargo. “We prep around 10 meals per meal period, so about 30 meals total per day.”

Missile chefs serve anyone who is at a MAF, to include security forces, missileers, facility managers, maintainers, government contractors and civilians.

“Our main priority is to serve the security forces, missileers and facility managers,” said Camargo. “We also have missile maintenance, contractors and other visitors who visit the MAF, so we are always ready to serve them, too.”

While keeping Airmen properly fed is important, a missile chef’s impact goes far beyond providing sustenance.

“Chefs are important to our mission by keeping morale and a positive experience,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Hanel, 12th Missile Squadron combat crew commander. “Chefs bring us comfort, knowing they are here to provide us food.”

In between meal periods, missile chefs have free time, which presents an opportunity to attend college courses, relax and meet new people.

“We have time to go to school, workout and just relax,” said Camargo. “We also get to meet a lot of new people and make new friends.”