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Surviving a DFAC closure on ramen noodles

By Senior Master Sgt. Emmit Bartee 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron First Sergeant

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In light of the recent news of the upcoming Dining Facility closure I tried to think back to some hard lessons learned as a young service member and came up with the following first sergeant true life story.

While assigned to my first base, I was able to go back to my small town in Mississippi and retrieve my classic 1968 Chevy El Camino. Needless to say I was extremely proud of my car due to the fact that I was one of only a handful of Airmen that had a vehicle. Like most young country boys, my vehicle was my life, and life was extremely good for me. I had a vehicle, a paycheck, a place to live and a place to eat. Thinking life could not get any better, I received my pay on the 15th and found I had an extra $300 added. Not being stupid, I immediately went to finance to see if they made a mistake. Low and behold, they hadn't; they pointed out that I was entitled to it. Like most Airmen in the dorm you don't worry about being broke because you have a room to stay in and a place to eat. Most guys will know what chrome valve covers and all the goodies you can buy to dress up the engine compartment of a vehicle. I spent nearly all my hard-earned money on those niceties.

Most can agree that when you live in the dorm you don't go to the DFAC until approximately three to five days after pay day. That is because you are going off base eating fast food or blowing your money. Only when you are low on funds and hungry that you realize the DFAC food is really good. This is exactly what happened to me. To my amazement, the DFAC had yellow tape around the doors and had a closed sign on it. Shocked and amazed I found out quickly what the extra money in my account was for. The DFAC was going to be closed for a month.

Down to my last $30, I was faced with some hard decisions. I sat down and came up with a plan. I went to the commissary and spent $20 on ramen noodles, a pack of hot dogs and a pack of cheese. I ate ramen noodles for approximately two weeks. I had plain ramen for breakfast, ramen and cheese for lunch and ramen cut up hot dog and cheese for dinner. The latter I considered a casserole. This taught me early in my career about money management and poor decision making. I had the option of calling home and getting money from my parents; however, how embarrassing would that be?

There are a couple of items that I would like for you to take from this true life military story. One is to make sound decisions. Think about tomorrow and not the instant gratification at hand. Second, tough times don't last; you go through them and should come out stronger and more resilient. That concludes the first sergeant true life story, and if you ever need to know what to do with ramen noodles, give me a holla.