SSC-Natick Press ReleaseU.S. Army Soldier Systems
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Public Affairs Office
Date: January 11, 2008
Local Soldier visits
Combat Feeding personnel to offer his thanks
NATICK, Mass. --
On Dec. 19, Sgt. John Blood, Jr., of the 5/73 Recon of the 3rd
Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and his father, John
Blood, Sr., visited the Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) at the U.S.
Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC)
to offer their personal thanks for CFD's assistance in improving
Soldiers' meals during a deployment in Iraq.
The younger Blood, assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., was in Iraq between
August 2006 and October 2007. During this time, due to the nature of
his missions, he ate a lot of Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MREs). "The chow
hall would not always be open when we returned from our missions,"
he said, "and we would go to have MREs only to find out that they
Originally the Soldiers were not even aware of the time/temperature
indicators (TTI) on the MRE cartons. TTIs link the quality of the
ration to the time and temperature since it was packed. TTIs consist
of an outer reference ring and an inner circle. The inner circle
darkens with time, and darkens more quickly as the temperature
increases. The quality of food products is very dependent on the
time and temperature of storage, so the darker the circle, the less
fresh the food.
MREs that were stored in conexes in the heat of the Iraqi desert
were deteriorating quickly and it soon got to the point where the
Soldiers would be happy if they only saw a gray ring on the TTI,
knowing that the MREs with black rings would be spoiled.
"We were eating MREs 80 percent of the time," Blood Jr. said, "and
sometimes all we would be able to have from an MRE was the pound
cake because it doesn't get rotten."
He wrote home to ask his family in Hudson, Mass., to send him food.
"Chicken packets, tuna packets, which I would get via mail, were the
When his father heard about the problems with the MREs, he contacted
CFD to see if there was anything they could do to assist with the
Gerald Darsch, director of CFD, contacted personnel to ensure that
the MREs stored in the conexes were being inspected by the U.S. Army
The younger Blood said that although he never saw the personnel come
by, he heard that they visited his forward operating base. "I don't
know what you did," he said, "but after that something changed [for
the better] around there. I appreciate all you did."
While visiting NSRDEC, both Bloods got to see some of the upcoming
projects to help out the Soldier in situations such as these.
The younger one was excited to see the chicken packets he enjoyed so
much will be a part of the First Strike Ration (FSR). "Often we had
no time and were eating on the go." The FSR would fit in perfectly
for these missions.
They also saw the Unitized Group Ration - Express (UGR-E), sometimes
called the 'kitchen in a carton.' The UGR-E is a compact,
self-contained and self-heating module that provides a meal for
approximately 18 personnel with no field kitchen, no cook and no
fuel. Blood Jr. thought his group could have definitely benefited
from the UGR-E. Many times a smaller group would need to break off
from a larger one, he said, and having something like this for them
to take along would have been very useful.
They also heard about constraints, such as shelf-life and nutrition
content percentages, that CFD has to work within.
"When I was in my field training, I loved MREs," the younger Blood
said. "They were never a problem until I was over there [Iraq]."
Both Bloods say they are grateful for the help that CFD provided.
This page last updated on 10 May 2006.