November 17, 2010 – Mark Leone
CHOUPIQUE, LA (KPLC) - Starting out as a fry cook in the military back in the 1980's, Mark Leone had no idea he would be in charge of entire dining hall in Iraq years later. Leone served in Operation Desert Storm, based on the island of Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean.
"We had 20 B-52's flying out of there dropping bombs on Iraqis trying to liberate Kuwait," said Leone. "I was there for seven months. This was before Internet. It was writing letters and every now and then we'd make a phone call home."
Eventually promoted to a Chief Master Sergeant, Leone was then placed in charge of one of the main dining halls at the Baghdad airport.
"Of course there's nowhere else to go. You're looking at basically four meals a day for 1900 people. We had a midnight meal to feed then night crews. Again all the cargo that came in and out of Iraq landed there."
Then in 2005, Leone was put back into service with the Air National Guard, providing security in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
"The greatest thing is the respect from the people. We caught a lot of perps chasing them through the neighborhoods, helping the NOPD out. You know, just walking the streets with an M--16, people just freak out."
Leone plans to retire from military service in the Spring of next year.