HomeNewsArticle Display

Junior enlisted grill up a plate-full

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Miles Painter, 14th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) Aerospace Physiology technician and Airman Diego Valadez, 14th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, cut food to be used on kabobs, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The base does not have a dining facility so it is important that Airmen learn how to safely and efficiently prepare their own meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Miles Painter, 14th Operations Support Squadron (OSS) Aerospace Physiology technician and Airman Diego Valadez, 14th OSS Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, cut food to be used on kabobs, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The base does not have a dining facility so it is important that Airmen learn how to safely and efficiently prepare their own meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

An Airman chops squash to make kabobs, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, at Montgomery Village on Columbus Air Force Base. The village located at the Unaccompanied Enlisted Dorms houses a fully furnished kitchen, accessible to any dorm resident that would like to use it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

An Airman chops squash to make kabobs, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, at Montgomery Village on Columbus Air Force Base. The village located at the Unaccompanied Enlisted Dorms houses a fully furnished kitchen, accessible to any dorm resident that would like to use it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evelyn Maryorquin, 48th Flying Training Squadron Aviation Resource Management apprentice, places a kabob on the grill, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The class was a part of a cooking series for Airmen to get the chance to learn how to cook varies foods. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Evelyn Maryorquin, 48th Flying Training Squadron Aviation Resource Management apprentice, places a kabob on the grill, during a cooking class, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The class was a part of a cooking series for Airmen to get the chance to learn how to cook varies foods. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

Nicholas Ward, 14th Operations Support Squadron Radar, Airfield and Weather Systems technician, teaches a grilling class to Airman in the Unaccompanied Enlisted Quarters, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The First Four, an organization comprised of junior enlisted members on base, put together a series of cooking classes to teach single Airman how to cook healthy, cost-efficient meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

Nicholas Ward, 14th Operations Support Squadron Radar, Airfield and Weather Systems technician, teaches a grilling class to Airman in the Unaccompanied Enlisted Quarters, Nov. 5, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The First Four, an organization comprised of junior enlisted members on base, put together a series of cooking classes to teach single Airman how to cook healthy, cost-efficient meals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Columbus Air Force Base’s First Four organization, comprised of Airmen E4 and below, have recently been working with residences on the base to teach junior Airman in the dorms how to cook and grill various food.

The most recent is instructor was Nicholas Ward, an Air Force Veteran, who is now working Civil Service as a Radar, Airfield and Weather Systems technician.

Ward served six and a half years before he was medically discharged due to a back injury, however, he has continued to serve the for the past 11 years on the civilian side.

“I went into the Air Force committed to staying in and retiring after 20 years,” said Ward. “Once it was clear I could no longer be active duty and was discharged, I starting looking for Civil Service jobs. I really didn’t look anywhere other than the Air Force. I love the culture and the comrade.”

Ward said he lived in the single Airman dorms during his time as active duty and knows how challenging it can be when no one knows how to cook.

“I have always loved cooking so when it was brought up to me whether or not I would be willing to teach a class, I was all in,” said Ward. “I love to share my passion with other people. If there is anyone willing to learn, I’ll gladly teach them.”

Ward has not only teamed up with other civilians to cook for the squadrons, but has also catered in a squadron event.

“I have been to both of Mr. Ward’s grilling classes and appreciate the time and effort he took to teach us,” said Airman 1st Class Alex Patterson, 14th Mission Support Group Financial Management technician. “In the first class we learned how to properly grill various cuts of beef and chicken. He was very informative and I took a lot away from the class, including good food.”

Many Airman living in Unaccompanied Enlisted Quarters (UEQ’s) are experiencing living on their own for the first time. Ward not only offers to teach classes, but also gives advice on how to save money while grocery shopping.

The veteran used his prior experience as an Airman on a budget and taught the importance of how to make use of a product in multiple ways, such as, buying bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs. He further explained how bones can be used to make chicken broth, the skin can be fried, and the meat can be used for various dishes.

“I enjoyed the class and it was a good experience,” said Airman 1st Class Miles Painter, 14th Operations Support Squadron Aerospace Physiology technician. “I would attend another class in the future.”