HUSAYBAH, Iraq -- When the Marines of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team-2 return from their various missions, one thing they know is certain; chow will be waiting for them. This is because Sgt. Donald E. Lockridge Jr., a North Webster, Ind., native, and his team of food service specialists are on the job 16 to 18 hours a day, preparing food for the Marines here. “Cooking good food is important because it brings morale up to have a hot meal as apposed to eating a Meal Ready to Eat. The Marines here have a hot meal in the morning and at night,” explained the 1995 Wawasee High School graduate. The food service workers get up at 4 a.m. to prepare breakfast for the Marines on this secluded base. And on Sunday mornings, they have a treat for the Marines. “On Sundays we wake up an hour earlier to cook the Marines steaks and eggs,” said Lance Cpl. Melvin D. Carson, Jr., a Virginia Beach, Va., native. After breakfast the Marines clean up and break out the food for dinner. They also send food to the local Iraqi National Guard compound. Due to the isolation of the base here, the food service Marines have to work with the limited supplies they receive. “Being out here you don’t have a lot to go with. It’s not like it is back home where you can eat what you want. Plus this base doesn’t have the same luxuries as other bases in Iraq,” explained Carson, a 2000 Kellam High School graduate. The food service Marines often receive praise for their work from the command here. “They do a phenomenal job out here and they go above and beyond the call of duty,” explained 1st Sgt. Brazeal, the company first sergeant. These Marines do more than prepare and serve food though. During insurgent attacks on the base, the food service Marines serve as 81 mm mortar team. “Every Marine is a rifleman and they are a prime example of that,” Brazeal explained. Both Lockridge and Carson enjoy their jobs and understand why their role in the Global War on Terrorism is so important. “The best part for me is knowing that we made a difference in somebody’s life out here,” Lockridge said, Carson continuing his thought. “The best part for me is seeing the Marines, after a hard day of being out there, enjoying the chow we made for them and you get to cook what you want.” While their main mission is to cook, prepare food and feed the Marines, the food service workers have also experienced a new culture. “We get to see a different culture and different parts of the world. We get a bird’s eye view of what they live like out here. A lot of people only see what’s on the news and they don’t have a good idea of what goes on here,” Lockridge said. Carson, who completed his last tour in Iraq less than four months before this one with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, explained how hard he and the Marines work. “We are trying as hard as we can to make sure every Marine out here eats. It’s not an easy task, but the food has to get out to the Marines,” explained the son of Melvin, Sr., a former Marine master sergeant. According to Carson, it’s easier to get things done when they are working for a noncommissioned officer who cares about them like Lockridge does. “My main goal out here is to make sure my Marines stay safe and bring them all home to their families,” explained Lockridge, a husband and father a 5-month-old son.