I interviewed an ex-Marine named Jo Steinert. Ms. Steinert was mustered out in 1987, and I thought it would be a good idea to listen to her impressions.
Marine Corps Base Hawaii
When I was assigned to Kaneohe the best that I can say is that it sucked. Sucked pretty bad.
Oh, the food was alright, I suppose. It was mostly meats like biscuits and gravy, meatloaf. Salsbury steak. Macaroni and cheese. Biscuits and gravy. Stuff like that. Plenty of protein and fat. I'd have to say that most high school lunch rooms have better food.
They'd bake a little bit, but it was mostly biscuits or dinner rolls. The bread would come out of a bag. There'd be a sheet cake with canned frosting they'd bake up for dessert, almost always vanilla frosting. Pretty much the same type of food for both lunch and dinner.
For breakfast there was scrambled eggs and sausage links. I'd eat one of those little boxes of cereal. Eventually I just skipped breakfast all together. The PX had a little lunch counter with pre-packaged sandwiches, pretty much like what you'd find in one of those gas station coolers next to the microwave. I'd eat those every so often so I wouldn't have to go to the hall.
The facilities were depressing. Lights would burn out and the guys working there would drag their feet when it came to replacing them, so it was always dark. There was just folding tables, folding chairs. Nothing else. The tables were clean but the floor was gritty because they'd never sweep. Just as soon as I could afford to buy a car I'd go off base for fast food and I didn't eat there again.
Hickam Air Force Base
I'd have to go to Pearl Harbor and pick up paperwork every Saturday morning, so I could eat breakfast there. I never missed it. The food was so much better!
They had fish tanks along the wall with lights so you could see the fish swimming along. There were tablecloths on the table. The place had carpets, it was clean, there was some fake flowers on the table. They had salt and pepper shakers on each table instead of you having to get those little paper packets and carry them back to your seat. There were a few TV's playing against the wall so you could watch cartoons while you ate. Even the guys behind the counter were cheerful, and there was a guy who would make you an omelette any way you wanted. I remember I once asked for some eggs at the Marine base and the guy cracked two raw eggs in a bowl and handed them over with a big smirk.
"But what about the food?"
Oh, the food was MUCH better! Much better.
"You talked about how much nicer the dining area and the people working there were, but not a whole lot about the food. How was it different from the Marine base?"
Oh, well, it was.....Did I mention that you could get an omelette any way you wanted?
It was the same as at base, except they didn't bake as much. The only bread came out of a bag. I remember having to hold on to my tray with one hand while I ate so it wouldn't slide off the table when the ship would roll around.
Posco Pier, Korea
They didn't tell us exactly where it was. (It's about as far south as you can get and still be in South Korea.--James) We lived in tents that were set up on the pier. The food was exactly the same as it was in Hawaii, except that it was dirtier in the hall.
A few of us would fish off the end of the pier every day and see what we could catch. Usually it was a few eels. We'd put them in a bucket with some sea water and walk off the pier into town a little way. The Korean restaurants would pay you some money for the eels, as long as they were still alive. We'd use the cash to buy lunch when the Burger King truck came around.
"Burger King truck?"
Oh, yeah. There was this truck with a window in it, about as big as a UPS delivery truck. There was a menu on the side and you'd give your order and get your food. It was real Burger King food. They did a pretty good business, and trading the eels in for a whopper was the best thing. Really gave you a taste of home.