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Jack Simpson - 09/18/09
Military Rations

In World War II, veterans remember their reliance on K-rations and C-rations. Today the field ration of choice goes by the name MRE, Military Meals Ready-to-Eat.

Civilians became exposed to the MREs during Hurricanes Katrina and Ike when the National Guard provided them to refugees.

Dora Brock has been with the Newton County Sheriff's Office for eight years and has been a member of the Army National Guard, 170th MP Unit, for about 12 years. She goes on training yearly for several weeks at a time and is familiar with MREs.

She recently returned from summer camp at Fort Stewart where for 16 days she ate an MRE daily and claims she found it acceptable, satisfactory and nutritional. It did help enhance her performance in the field although not all of the 12 varieties were delightfully palatable.

An average MRE costs about $7.25 and a 12-pack case costs approximately $87. These meals meet the needs of our troops in the field. They are quick, easily stored, can be cooked by adding water and have a good storage life.

Food packages may include beef ravioli, beans and rice, meatloaf, spaghetti, utensils, condiments, tea, coffee, lemonade, chicken and the like.

Mrs. Brock brought back with her a Package No. 3, beef ravioli in meat sauce. It was opened and examined and the contents included pears, fudge brownie, vegetable cracker, beef snack stick, cheese spread with jalapenos, beverage powder - lemon-lime, and a package that included sugar, salt, pepper, chewing gum, napkin, spoon, Tabasco sauce and a heater.

She told me she had eaten such a meal many times in the field and believed MREs were pretty good emergency food sources. She may have to rely on more of these meals when her unit is deployed to Iraq sometime in the near future.

Her unit has found the MRE provides for their food needs in combat situations and in field training exercises.

Hey, it isn't the Ritz, but a good emergency food alternative. If you have any doubts, Mrs. Brock just survived two weeks in the field under extreme conditions living on an MRE diet. I sampled one of the two vegetable crackers in Menu No. 3. Like I said, it isn't like eating at the Ritz, but it was good enough to enjoy both crackers.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.