As one of the oldest Marines in Hawthorne, Nevada, I was definitely feeling every bit of my venerable status. Unfortunately, I felt it mostly in my GI tract (that's gastrointestinal - not government issued!) For the two weeks of Marine Corps reserve training, we were each issued 30 MREs - or Meals Ready to Eat and had hot meals in the mess hall for 10 nights. But honestly, the mess hall serves UGRs - Unitized Group Rations - which are just MREs in larger portions.
While our mess hall Marines were cheerful and helpful, the food was not designed for a woman of a certain age. I think you all know what I mean.
We were very fortunate to get A Rations - which mean things like salad and fresh fruit - granola bars and even PB&J. So over the course of 2 weeks, I managed to only eat 4 MREs. I tried my darnedest to eat fresh fruit and granola bars as often as possible instead of a highly processed meal.
Sometimes the mess hall had motivated M&Ms or Reese's Pieces. Once again, I avoided these - but the Marines loved them!
Generally speaking, the Marines like their MREs. Opening an MRE is like opening a box of Cracker Jacks. You never know what surprise you'll get inside. A lot of trading goes on during chow time. Out of the 4 MREs I actually opened, one of them had FOUR (4) desserts. Really! Don't they know I'm a 40- something year old woman? Might as well duct-tape that stuff to my thighs.
This PB&J lunch with an apple and a granola bar actually felt like a healthy meal option. I'm not kidding! If only I had a glass of refreshing cold milk.
Instead we had lots of refreshing H2O. If it were less than body temperature, it was cold water - more than body temperature, it was unflavored tea. But whatever the temperature, it was important to keep drinking as the desert does not play games. Dehydration is not fun. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are even less fun. So the Marines drink and drink and drink and pretend that it's an ice cold beverage.
Finally, we were able to order some food from the local community, so I treated my Marines to pizza from Old Nevada Pizza. It was a real treat and a true motivator. It's a great way to thank the Marines for a job well done.
They say an Army moves on its stomach. Well, I guess that's true. I was very impressed with how well we were fed in such austere conditions. It's not the farm fresh vegetables from home, but it was amazing just the same. After awhile, the MREs and the UGRs begin to look appetizing. Amazingly enough, even with all this calorie-laden, highly process food, I managed to lose weight.
Did I mention how happy I am to be home? I think I should probably do some all vegetarian cleanse after all this military food. What's the latest detox going around? Maybe I'll give it a try.