Local Army mom cooks 36 gallons of gumbo for soldiers at Ft. Polk JRTC

Enjoying gumbo after 3 weeks of training at JRTC, Fort Polk.<br />(Source: KALB)
Enjoying gumbo after 3 weeks of training at JRTC, Fort Polk.<br />(Source: KALB)(KALB)
Published: Jan. 30, 2017 at 10:12 PM CST
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Three months ago, when one local mom learned that her son's unit from Fort Drum, New York would be training at Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center in January, all she wanted to do was feed him.

After days of preparation, Miranda Morley Shumate and her family cooked a 36-gallon gumbo feast on Saturday morning at Aligator Lake for her son, Private First Class Morley Setliff and his company.

"We cooked gumbo for 12 hours."

His unit, 2nd battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Fort Drum, NY) had just wrapped up 3 weeks of training at Fort Polk's JRTC.

Miranda said, "They came back and said, you're going to have to feed 150 troops, are you ready for this? And I said: oh that's a family reunion. That's a Friday night football game, oh I've got that!"

The food ended up having to be packed up and sent to the soldiers of Alpha Co, 2-14 at Fort Polk...king cake, Mardi Gras beads and all. But not before PFC Setliff and his buddy, Specialist Ricardo Ybarra, a California native and Miranda's "adopted son", got some quality family time. The meal was a luxury compared MRE's in the field.

"Definitely really nice of them to prepare this meal for a whole companies worth of people, that's about a hundred plus," said SPC Ybarra. "It was really great having a home cooked meal for the first time in so long. I feel like if I stood here for too long, I'd gain a lot of weight."

PFC Setliff added, "Ybarra loves it. He had come home with me one summer during leave and had some and for the next three days, he ate it for breakfast. So I mean it's always exciting to turn people on to good southern food."

And Miranda was thrilled to give her son, an only child, and his company, a taste of home.

"That's what we do here in Louisiana, we fatten you up, we feed you. That's how we show love and appreciation and support."

PFC Setliff, a 2014 Holy Savior Menard High School graduate, left the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2015 to join the Army after his great grandfather, Richard S. Morley, a WWII Navy veteran was diagnosed with cancer.

"We were very close," said PFC Setliff. "Him, my paw paw Dick, my grandpa Thompson. They both served in WWII."

Paw Paw Dick passed away in April of 2015.

Miranda said "by far one of the best things that has ever happened, sitting there watching my son tell his great grandfather that he wanted to follow in his footsteps and he wanted to have stories to tell. My paw paw got emotional and told him that he was very proud of him and knew that's where he belonged."

"He was very big on telling us stories when I was a kid," said PFC Setliff. "And for me, what I want is to have a good family and to have a good future and I feel like a part of that comes with experience and I would love for nothing more than to give my kids the opportunity to grow up telling stories about my adventures."

Miranda says being a new Army mom makes her appreciate her great grandparent's military service even more. But she adds that she's still learning all the Army jargon.

"Morley tells me stuff and I'm just like: I don't know what you're talking about son. Like platoon armor, what? I don't know. What does that mean? What're you shooting?"

The gumbo feast was also a belated birthday celebration for PFC Setliff who turned 21 on January 15th while he was in the field.