Outback Restaurant Brings Taste of Home to Deploying Airman

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Connie Reed
  • 172d Airlift Wing
Thompson Field, Jackson, Mississippi, July 11, 2015 - A line could be seen
extending from the 172d Airlift Wing dining facility as the aroma of steak floated across the base. Deploying Airman from the wing's Civil Engineering Squadron and their families were treated to a send away dinner prepared by the local Outback Steakhouse.

"When I found out about Outback coming to feed us, my heart jumped with excitement," said Senior Airman Randy Breland. "That's an incredible thing they did for the members of our unit,"

The flavorful sendoff has emerged into a much appreciated tradition initiated by Mr. Steve Grantham, owner and operator of several area Outback Steakhouses.  In the spirit of saluting military members for their upcoming deployments, Grantham and his team have served send-off meals on several occasions.  Along with 172d members, Grantham's crew has also cooked for deploying members from other Mississippi National Guard units. 

During the dinners, laughter could be heard along with compliments on the food's excellence.  However Grantham has always made the effort to shift discussions away from the provided meal to his appreciation for the dedication of the deploying troops.

The gathering of deploying members and their families often gives the outward bound Airmen a chance to reflect on what their military service means to them. Whether it's their first time down range or not, many Airmen use their last few days and hours at home to reflect what's important.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've wanted to deploy like my father," said Breland who serves as a 172d CES Heavy Equipment Operator.  "So deploying to me means I've taken a step in the right direction."

The youth of Senior Airmen Denzell Strange is only surpassed in his family by his three young children.  With his deployment, he knows that he must now focus on his military job as a firefighter while his family supports him from afar.

"I'm kind of nervous" Strange said. "But I'm expecting to go over there and learn a lot and see how active duty works," 

Deploying CE officer Capt. Carlos Palmer, will serve in a leadership role for the squadron.  Like many at the goodbye dinner, the young officer exalted confidence in the Airmen.

"Everyone's excited about the deployment and are ready to go out there and do a great job for the unit," said Palmer. "We're all eager to leave, do our job and return home safely."