Salute at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms 2008

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CBBQA Volunteers Give it Their All

For Troops and Their Families At Salute 08

By Tony McDowell

CBBQA Member/29 Palms local Rep

July 2008

This year the Salute at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms was a challenge up and above the normal BBQ event. Because of the schedule of Montgomery & Gentry the featured act for entertainment, the date of the event was moved up one week and could not be changed. When the arrangements were first made the CBBQA calendar looked clear, however, that soon changed because the competition BBQ at Modesto had also been moved to the weekend of 10 May. Because of this, there was a real challenge getting enough people and equipment to the base to support the cooking of 5,000 pounds of tri-tip for 18,000 service members and their families.

The call went out and 20 volunteers came forward. Tony McDowell had numerous meetings with the Base and guaranteed them the CBBQA would give it it’s all. Originally they were asked to cook 1,300 lbs of tri-tip. That was increased to 2,300 lbs. when it was learned that one of the bases battalions was due back from Iraq. Then, within the week CBBQA was asked to cook 5000 lbs of tri-tip.

Del King suggested Tony contact Randy Gille and request the use of his smoker. Randy originally had committed his smoker for the Modesto contest. He explained that he would call CBBQA President Brent Walton to see if it was still needed at Modesto as promised. The decision was made that it would better serve in support of Salute 08 at 29 Palms and Randy graciously loaned his pit to support this event.

The volunteer helpers assembled on Friday night May 9th to swap BBQ stories and get acquainted once again. Joe Miles cooked a great tri-tip dinner and Linda Burke made a great desert that all raved about. After dinner we were visited and welcomed by Kathy Catlin (MCCS Director), her husband Brian and the Base Commanding Officer General & Mrs. Spiese who welcomed us aboard and thanked us for supporting our service members. It was then time to start prepping the meat. Once the volunteers started they did an exceptional job of prepping ALL the meats. That included removing 5,423 lbs. of tri-tip from their packages and then seasoning and prepping it all. Del King and Tony examined the meat and decided that it needed very little trimming, so it could be done after the cooking on Saturday. We were given a portable tent to use and everything was going great until the wind came up gusting 30 to 40 miles per hour. There all of us were trying to season the meat with seasoning flying everywhere. It could have been a lot worse. Colin Williams and his son Luke and a few others tried to no avail to put up some sides on the tent but we endured.

The next morning we met and started the smokers. The meat was delivered to each pit and the cooking started. With the amount of smokers and the amount of meat it seemed like it would never end. The average temperature during the day was between 90 and 100 degrees. Not bad for the desert.

After the first round of meat had settled, Tony McDowell & Manny Granillo started slicing the meat and putting it back on the warmers. Then Manny, Joe and Carl were in charge of the finished product inventory and pointing the military staff volunteers to the right place to satisfy the request of the food lines for refills on the serving lines.

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