The Best Eggs I Ever Had
When I was a young lieutenant in the Army Reserves, one of my first assignments was as the XO (Executive Officer) for a 2-star general’s headquarters company. My boss, the CO (Commanding Officer) was Major Bruce Hightower, a great guy, friend, and mentor. We were both Armor officers and he took me under his wing.
One day we were having lunch and he asked me, “What is the best MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) for an enlisted person, in terms of post-military career?”
I thought about it. I knew it wasn’t one of the combat branches – infantry, armor, artillery, and so on. I guessed the Corps of Engineers since it prepared you for jobs in construction.
“It’s field cook,” said Major Hightower. He explained that if you go in as a Culinary Specialist, you have the opportunity to become a chef and more importantly, gain the skills to run a large restaurant. Everyone has the wrong ideas about cooks in the military. They think of someone peeling potatoes or scrubbing pots. I’m sure there’s some of that in the early days but that won’t be your whole career.
Major Hightower explained the career progression of cooks. You can become a Warrant Officer (WO). I think about some of the mess halls where I have eaten and they are serving hundreds, even thousands, of people every day, three times a day. That takes mad skills. I think about that often whenever I think about the Army.
Another thing I think about: the best damn eggs I ever had in my life. I have eaten eggs at many restaurants and hotels in my life over a half century, and I can still remember the best eggs I ever ate. They were in the Army.
I was on a field exercise at Fort Irwin when I was in the National Guard in California. One morning the field cooks made these scrambled eggs with season salt and hot sauce and holy cow, as I’m writing this, I still remember how they taste. I was sitting with my tank crew and as we started eating, we all remarked how incredible they tasted.
Still eating, we headed back towards the chow line in anticipation of the call for seconds. We were not the only ones. There were dozens of soldiers ahead of us.
Everyone talked about those eggs all day. I remember going to liaise with another lieutenant from battalion headquarters. After we finished our business, he asked, “Dude, did you have those eggs this morning?” That was one of many conversations I had that weekend about the eggs. After that exercise, people were looking forward to going back to Fort Irwin in hopes of having those eggs again.
Both those things – the best job in the Army being a cook and having the best eggs of my life in the Army – remind me to check my preconceived notions.