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A third country national, employed by the dining facility, prepares a cold cut platter at the new DFAC at Al Asad, Iraq, July 16. The new DFAC was constructed to meet the demands of the growing air base. With a larger seating area the new DFAC will be able to facilitate more than 2,000 patrons.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

Marines chow down at second largest building in Iraq

25 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

A new dining facility, looking much like an economy-sized grocery story, opened at Al Asad July 16.

The new facility, called Warrior Hall, was needed due to the personnel increase across the base, according to Warrant Officer Fredrick L. Hunt, food service officer, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

"Since the base population will increase in the coming months and the current DFACs would struggle to keep up with the demand, we built a bigger one," said Hunt, a native of Lansing, Mich. "The current DFACs just wouldn't be able to make enough food or seat the number of people that will come through the doors."

The new DFAC has more than enough room to house the demands of a growing air base with approximately 12,000 military members and civilians currently stationed here.

"The new DFAC can seat roughly a quarter of the base at one time," said Staff Sgt. Patrick A. Virgile, military mess manager, 3rd MAW.

Stretching more than 107,000 square feet, the new DFAC, constructed by contractors employed by Kellogg, Brown and Root, is one of the largest buildings in Iraq.

"This new DFAC is the largest building we have constructed in theater," said Hunt. "The new DFAC is the second largest building in Iraq. Only the palace in Baghdad is bigger. The mess area is more than 59,000 square feet with a 48,000 square-foot kitchen and storage space."

According to Virgile, the new DFAC has more improvements than just the ability to seat more people. The ample staff can also feed more people.

"The old DFACs could only feed 4,000 people in a four-hour period," said Virgile, a native of Miami. "This new DFAC however, has the ability to feed 7,000 people in a three-hour period."

The new DFAC also offers food storage inside its facility, as opposed to using outside storage.

"At the old DFAC, all of the food and drinks were stored outside in containers," said Virigle. "Now everything is contained in one building. It makes preparing and cooking the meals a lot easier and less time consuming."

The new dining facility clearly has many improvements over its predecessors, but it is also a way to help service members feel a little closer to home, according to Virgile.

"Being inside this new DFAC almost lets you forget that you are in a war zone for an hour or so," said Virgile. "We still have a long way to go in Iraq. Building a bigger, cleaner, and more efficient chow hall is just a way to make that time a little easier."
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing