After leaving California and moving to Indiana for family reasons, Grant Ford of BBQ’n Fools noted an interesting item on the California Barbecue Forum. Del King, a member of CBBQA, was organizing an “Operation Barbecue for Our Troops” at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on April 13, 2007, along with AmVets and Robin Musselwhite of North Carolina. Grant was planning on purchasing a Lang 108 Deluxe from Ben Lang of Nahunta, Ga., sometime this year; however, with this event coming up, Grant decided to see if it was possible to link the two together, and that he did. Working with Ben Lang, Grant was able to arrange picking up the large 108 Lang Deluxe in Georgia and then traveling to Camp Lejeune to meet with the rest of the group smoking for the 2nd Tank Battalion. If you had asked me, “Would Grant ever drive 2,200 miles, I would have said ‘No way,’” but that is exactly what he did. Grant told me that was a great way to have his first smoke with the new pit serving the Troops and their families, so off he went.
At Camp Lejeune, Grant was not alone. As I have noted throughout the years, the barbecue family is one of the great supporters of those serving our country. In addition to Grant of BBQ’n Fools, volunteers were Del King with a Close Pit and his companion, the Bulldog “Gunny,” David Maun of Smokin’ Brothers BBQ (smokinbrothersbbq.com), with a Lang 84 Deluxe, and Allen Shealy of Huckleberry’s (piglotion.com), with a Lang 84. It was the most Langs Grant had ever seen in one place. Everyone arrived on the April 12th and met at the front gate to convoy onto the base. A family park area inside the base was the location of the barbecue. Del King got the group going with prepping the butts and the briskets, while Allen Shealy, with the help of Dave Maun, worked on the whole hog that Allen would be smoking. Ricky Chennault helped with getting the briskets just right with seasonings and tenderizing. Pits were fired up at 8 p.m. and the meats were put into the pits at 8:30 p.m. — oops, I mean at 2030. It had been a long time since Grant has been up all night smoking. With his WSM’s, he was used to enjoying four to six hours of sleep, but this time it would be barely two-and-onehalf hours broken over the night. David and Allen were more that glad to give Grant a hand with his new “BIG” Lang 108 Deluxe. Needless to say, it was a long night, but soon it would all be worth it. Doug Hanthorn was taking photos of the event, and you will find a lot of great photos at http://operationbbq. nakedwhiz.com/. Also, Pete Benac provided a breakfast for the volunteers, cooking with a Dutch oven in a Green Egg, yum, yum.
Pulling and slicing the meats, many of you, like myself, have experienced the pulling and slicing of “lots’ of pork and beef.Well, then you know the drill, pull and slice fast to keep it hot and ready to serve. The cooks were not alone; Del’s cousin, Ricky Chennault, Dave’s wife, Laura and his friend, Connie Alicea, helped with pulling pork. You know you’ve got to be careful when you are invited to help out at a BBQ… hee hee, been there done that, and for the troops and their families, I would do it again. Oh, did I mention that Grant’s Lang is also gas assist? This extra option worked out well later because the Lang 108 became the holding place for all the pulled pork AND sliced brisket to be ready for supplying the long, long lines of Marines and their families coming later that morning.
As the Troops and their families rolled-in, Del called out, “Let’s get mov’n”, and everyone jumped, like new Marines to Del’s call to serve! Everyone performed different tasks, but Allen manned his whole hog with Connie Alicea the whole morning. Robin usselwhite and the AmVet helpers worked at the serving tables, and that they did the whole time. It took a great team effort to see that the pork, brisket, Del’s beans, and potato salad kept being supplied for the serving lines. Needless to say, everyone met the challenge. Serving started at about 12 p.m. (1200) and serving seconds for the hungry Troops finished around 3 p.m. (1500). Grant said, “The troops were very thankful for our serving them, and as always it was our honor to do so. These men and woman are doing their duty for our country; we just served them for one day while they do it daily.” Some of the wives came by with their children to personally thank the barbecuers; they even offered to help with the clean-up. Both Dave and Grant said, “Oh, thank you very much, but it’s your day today. Please enjoy it to the fullest.” Many of the troops and their spouses stayed awhile and talked. Grant said, “Watching the kids play and the spouses enjoying the day with their loved ones was just wonderful.” A thought crossed Grant’s mind and heart that we are truly a blessed nation. It was time to go, and everyone helped clean-up, get packed, and say their good-byes until next time. I wish I could have been there.