FORT POLK, La. — Cutler Rogerson, a veteran who served with 2-503rd of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam in 1967, spent his entire meal at the Patriot Inn Dining Facility (DFAC) complaining about that acronym, sources confirmed today.
“D-F-A-C? Dee fac?” Rogerson kept asking his disinterested spouse, children and grandchildren. “Where’s the chow hall, the mess hall? Where’s the scarf-and-barf?”
His wife, Elizabeth, was nonplussed. “Why does he have to do that?” she asked. “Why this agenda, after all these years? We could have gone to Huddle House instead. He likes Huddle House and there’s no acronym. No HH, no problem.”
As Rogerson surveyed a facility full of GIs enjoying expertly-prepared food spilling over the sides of their plates, he scowled. “Butter soft,” he said. “Sure, good lighting, comfortable chairs, a big salad bar, a healthy-dessert table, and happy Soldiers. That’s damned disgusting.” He lit into his delicious Springfield honey ham, one of three perfectly roasted for the day. Between bites of carrot mousse, beet a la Doyenne and rustic bread baked in-house, he told his family, “No wonder we lost Iraq.”
“I’m responsible for the preparation and service of food at Patriot Inn," said Staff Sgt. Joy Turner, a Culinary Specialist at Patriot Inn. "Beyond that, I make sure that Soldiers, retirees, and dependents have access to quality meals that reflect our culinary values.”
Looking at Rogerson, Turner said, “I cooked a damn fine ham for that ham, and I did it in a DFAC, not a chow hall.”
Dr. Roger Sims, a historian with the U.S. Army Center of Military History, said that dining language and attitudes have changed over the years.
“Negative connotations associated with words like chow and mess were rooted out in the 1980s,” said Sims. “Today’s Army promotes state-of-the-art concepts of kitchen sanitation and taste as it goes about the critical task of making sure that Soldiers don’t overwhelm our precious plumbing systems five minutes after eating. So we prefer to use the modern phrase dining facility — in line with the core shitter values espoused by our beloved Army engineers.”
“Well,” Rogerson concluded, wiping gravy off his shirt with a corner of an embroidered tablecloth before putting a second slice of sugar-free pumpkin pie into a second napkin and into his M-65 field jacket, “dining hall or not, this DFAC thing is de facto stupid.”
However, working a toothpick outside the DFAC while his extended family quickly moved to their 15 cars, Rogerson appeared to alter his anti-acronym stance. “You know, that’s what a chow hall is supposed to do. Make you sleepy, and mildly sick. We'll be back to this Gag-And-Go real soon.” He laughed. “Or would that be GAG?”