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Finding A Good Meal In A War Zone

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Nov 07, 2016

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

The military isn’t known as a place to find a good meal. But people who serve in the armed forces are trained to overcome ANY obstacle -- including those standing in the way of deliciousness.

So when we asked veterans to call in and tell us about their memorable meals in combat, we got a lot of great stories.

"You know these 50 gallon oil drums? They’d cut it in half and weld a barbecue," says George Hanley, who served in Vietnam. "And we'd go up on the roof of the French villa [and have a barbecue]...it was fabulous!"

SolderEatingBattleKheSanh1968

In honor of Veteran's Day, this week on The Sporkful we're talking to veterans about eating in combat -- from fishing with grenades in World War II and rooftop barbecues in Vietnam to bartering with Girl Scout cookies in Iraq after the U.S. invasion.

We'll also hear soldiers' tricks for everything from eating on a warship to making the most of infamously terrible MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).

GabeDiMaioBoat

We start with one especially wild story about a young Marine corporal from New Mexico who served in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.

"I was young and looking for action," says Charles Hedrick. "I wanted to get into combat."

Charles volunteered to go to the front lines. He wound up in a metal shipping box (below) in the Saudi desert -- not far from Kuwait, where the fighting was happening.

CharlesBox

Charles and the four other guys living in that box were told to await orders. After a few weeks of killing time, they heard a rumor about a civilian settlement nearby, where they could do laundry.

Charles (below, with his last box of oreos) and his friends Rob (below center) and Scott (below right) didn't know anything about those civilians and they didn't have a map. But they set out walking into the desert with their guns and their dirty laundry.

"This was the experience that I'd signed up for," Charles says. "I was going to let it take me where it would."

CharlesScottRob

What would Charles and his friends find out there in the Saudi desert? Charles lived to tell the tale, but the experience changed him forever.

Listen in to the full episode to hear what happened -- and to hear plenty of other anecdotes from veterans about food on the front lines.

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Connect with me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook!

This is a rebroadcast of an earlier episode.

Interstitial music in this episode by BWN Music:

- "Bandstand Extended" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "TAPD" by Michael Coy Redict and Paul Yutaka Fischer

- "Broken Castle" by Bijou Basil

- "Asphalt Gods" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Pong" by Kenneth J. Brahmstedt

- "Can't Bring Me Down" by Jack Ventimiglia

Photos: FlickrCC/ManhhaiFlickrCC/Dvids, and courtesy of Charles Hedrick and Gabe DiMaio

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