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Guardsman's soup provides Sunday retreat

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Adam Johnston
  • 455th Expeditionary Operations Group
It is Sunday in Afghanistan's Air Force Village, and a huge 15-gallon metal cooking pot is providing a little taste of home.

Folks are lining up for another Sunday helping of home cooking by Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Treaster.

Treaster, an Air National Guardsman from McEntire Air National Guard Base, S.C., is in perpetual motion.

"There's a pot of soup right there. Get yourself a bowl," said Treaster with a slight southern drawl to Sunday brunch latecomers. He is pure motion as he bounces between cooking, building a box to send equipment home and pure 'ole Sunday socializing.

Getting Treaster to slow down for a minute is a near monumental undertaking. After dodging back inside to get a cup of coffee, Treaster finally stops to sit down and talk at a picnic table. The conversation topic -- soup.

While he clearly is the catalyst for Sunday's homespun brand of brunch, he continually refuses to accept credit for the food as he spins off lists of contributors to today's beef vegetable soup.

"I'm not really a cook," he explained. "A lot of people come out to help ... we just put a bunch of stuff together and come up with some soup. We do whatever we can. Whatever we're able to scrounge up. It's a melting pot of sorts."

The soup's taste is indescribable. Hardly the work of an amateur, and only one word comes to mind after tasting the concoction: "Home."

The atmosphere of these Sunday brunches is like a family reunion. They are part socializing, part gossiping and always chocked full of camaraderie smack in the middle of the picturesque views of Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountain range.

These socials started here last September when Treaster arrived from Pelion, S.C., where his wife and three children - 15, 8 and 6 - live. Reflecting on his family back home, his eyes tear up.

"I think of my kids a lot when I cook," he said. "It's a sanity break."

The conversation quickly turns back to soup.

Treaster says the inspiration for starting the Sunday cookouts comes from his wife. Back home, he said, she typically brings out a crockpot full of food to his co-workers when they are at home station.

Using that inspiration, Treaster said the originally idea behind Sunday brunch was to bring a sense of home here.

"For a lot of people this is 15 minutes out of the war to get a home-cooked meal," he said. "The atmosphere totally changes around here. It's nothing fancy, just a big pot of soup."

Fans of Treaster's treats hardly agree with his simplistic explanation of Sunday brunch.

"His cooking has brought a lot of folks together," said Capt. Joni Pentifallo, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group executive officer.

"Because of the various jobs here people may have never come together," Pentifallo said about the various "cliques" that can crop up in such a small, tight-knit community. "His cooking has changed that."

Mixing work and cooking seems to come second nature to Treaster who modestly describes his work here as "the logistics person for deployed (airmen) of the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron."

Turning back to soup, Treaster said, "You know you can add an onion and some salt to what (the local dining facility contractor) makes and you can get a completely different taste."

While that may be possible, it is hard to believe that Treaster's treats are that simple. Particularly when the question, "Can I get another bowl?" is so routine.