30 McNuggets in one sitting
Elias Dasilva, Marines
"I was in Camp Taji in Iraq for nine months. Overall there were a lot of ups and downs. We were mortared a lot and we ran missions daily, but there were some silver linings. Our primary role overseas was to train the Iraqi troops on bridge building and maintenance.
"I was eating a lot of 'food' of questionable origins. I tended to stay with the pastas and avoided the meat. Initially, we had a chow hall that served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but as things started wrapping up, the chow hall closed and we had to rely on MREs. So anything sounded good after a month or so of MREs. I wanted actual food, like a steak or something savory.
"After we arrived back in Fort Hood, TX, we had some ceremonial things we had to do and then we got released. It was probably around 1am and I had been on a plane for 13 hours and was starving. I ended up at McDonald's. I ordered a 50-piece McNuggets and a large sweet tea with a gratuitous amount of honey mustard. It was delicious. It was the first time in a very long time where I wasn't rushed, or in fear of anything happening, and I finally had peace and enjoyed a meal. I was so happy to be back and to be able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted. It tasted like freedom, and I only ate about 30."
Mom's meatloaf is always satisfying
Robert L. Rimmer, Coast Guard
"My ship was support craft for the invasion of Hollandia, which is in the South Pacific by New Guinea, during World War II. We were in this area for two or three weeks because there were several battles going on. It was my first tour. My overall experience was very educational, and I appreciated being able to serve my country.
"We ate lots of Spam and chipped beef on toast. Our chef was a former cook in California, and he did a wonderful job of doctoring the food so that it was actually palatable.
"When I returned home, the first meal I wanted was my Mother's meatloaf, potatoes, gravy, homemade bread, and apple pie. We had it at home with my family. It lived up to my expectations 100%."
Chicken Parm is the taste of home
Vincent Otano, Army
"I was in Bagram, Afghanistan, and for the entire 12 months I was there the food was kinda scrappy. I was eating boiled chicken breast or MREs everyday.
"I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the food I wanted most was chicken Parm. My Mom made it all the time growing up and it always made me think of home. So when I got back, I got chicken Parm at a little mom-and-pop restaurant right off base. Every bite was exactly what I wanted it to be: perfect. Of course, I went to a bar with quite a few of my buddies who had deployed with me afterwards to celebrate."