Fighting for love of country
By Trent Loos
Once again the nation’s premier mobile catering unit made it look easy. Last weekend, the All American Beef Battalion was at Fort Carson, Colo., feeding a record 5,047 people a mouth-watering meal. There were 18-ounce rib-eyes for the adults, 1,300 all-beef hot dogs for the kids, cheesy potatoes, corn, yeast rolls and cookies. I am confident that when Bill Broadie had the original vision of feeding our nation’s troops, he had no idea what a mobile feeding unit it would become. Despite the undying commitment from the core group that has been with Broadie from the start, this could not happen without the dozens of volunteers who show up each time to help and especially at this Mountain Post.
I personally find the history of this base to be quite interesting.
Fort Carson was established in 1942, following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The city of Colorado Springs purchased land south of the city and donated it to the War Department. Construction began immediately and the first building, the camp headquarters, was completed Jan. 31, 1942. Camp Carson was named in honor of the legendary Army scout, Gen. Christopher “Kit” Carson, who explored much of the West in the 1800s.
Nurses, cooks, mule packers, tank battalions, a Greek infantry battalion, and an Italian ordnance company—literally soldiers of every variety—trained at Camp Carson during the war years. Camp Carson was also home to nearly 9,000 Axis prisoners of war—mostly Italians and Germans. The internment camp at Camp Carson opened on the first day of 1943. These POWs alleviated the manpower shortage in Colorado by doing general farm work, canning tomatoes, cutting corn and aiding in logging operations on Colorado’s Western Slope.
Between 1942 and 1956, pack mules were a common sight at Camp Carson. The first shipment arrived by train from Nebraska in July 1942. The mules were used by Field artillery (Pack) battalions to carry equipment, weapons and supplies over mountainous terrain.
Of course being partial to mules I had to throw in that little tidbit in about the history of mules at Fort Carson. Also of interest was the number of POWs that helped in the farming world during WWII. Between 1942 and 1945 the United States brought 400,000 Axis prisoners of war to this country. Many of them were placed in the Great Plains and Nebraska had 12,000 alone. Due to severe labor shortages POWs were used extensively on farms.
Farmers who contracted for POW workers usually provided meals for them and paid the U.S. government 45 cents an hour per laborer, which helped offset the millions of dollars needed to care for the prisoners. Even though a POW netted only 80 cents a day for himself, it provided him with pocket money to spend in the canteen. Officers were not required to work under the Geneva Convention accords, which also prohibited POWs from working in dangerous conditions or in tasks directly related to the war effort.
That is just a quick look at a piece of military history that I hope we do not repeat any time soon. Now back to the unit that the All American Beef Battalion feed. The unit on the receiving end of these wonderful rib-eyes will be shipping out to Afghanistan again in March.
While most of us go about our daily lives without a thought given to what these young men and women are dealing with every day because we don’t need to think about it. However, it is vitally important that we always remember and find our own way to say “thank you” because their love for country was so evident.
Col. Brian L. Pearl, commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, was wearing a cap that said “Fighting for the love of country.” I was probably in tune to this more than normal because just before I headed off to Fort Carson I read a column by an English professor in the East who said it is time to stop supporting the troops. I spent the day with 5,047 soldiers who are all there because they love their country so much that they are willing to die for it. How many people can say that? That deserves more than a thank you.
The All American Beef Battalion has been in existence for a little over five years and they have now served over 185,000 troops and their families thanks to the generosity and love of country expressed by those of you in rural America. If you need a healthy dose of showing your “love of country” in your life, check out the website www.steaksfortroops.com and join the Battalion yourself or help make this effort even bigger. It’s a small price to pay to someone who is willing to sacrifice themselves and time with their own family to protect the American way of life.
God bless America and all of those who serve!
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.