Nebraska beef. It's what's for dinner — in Afghanistan.
A group of Nebraska cattle feeders shipped a load of rib-eye steaks to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 15 (Seabees) in Afghanistan. Most of those Seabees hail from Nebraska, western Iowa and Missouri.
Lincoln resident Mark Harms is one of them. He emailed his dad, Alan Harms of Wisner, Neb., that he and the other Seabees missed eating beef and that Nebraska steaks would be a wonderful treat.
Alan Harms talked with Tom Feller, owner of Feller & Co. cattle feeders in Wisner.
Feller agreed it would be a nice “we support you” for the troops.
In true “no good deed goes unpunished” fashion, Feller fell into a feedlot full of logistics troubles.
His go-to guy at Nebraska Beef in Omaha had no way to transport the meat to Dover, Del., where planes loaded with supplies for Afghanistan depart from. Nebraska Beef doesn't have trucks that travel to Delaware.
“I go back to Alan Harms and tell him we don't know how to get it there,” Feller said.
Feller approached fellow members of the Cuming County Feeders Association to see if they would contribute beef for the troops. He recalled them saying: “This could be great. We'd love to do this.”
One member suggested that instead of shipping beef from Nebraska, the group should buy the meat in Delaware.
About now you're probably thinking: How could Nebraska beef be assured if it was purchased in Delaware? Theoretically, it couldn't be assured, but read on.
Feller called Sam's Club in Dover, which wouldn't sell him the beef if he didn't personally pick it up.
So he called a Dover Safeway store, where the manager agreed to sell him 350 pounds of uncut rib-eye steaks. There was one hitch: no credit card purchase.
Feller drove the 31 miles from Wisner to the Western Union office in Norfolk, Neb., to wire $3,000 to Dover.
Alan Harms called a friend in Dover, who agreed to help. The friend picked up the wired money, went to the Safeway, picked up the beef and took it to Air Force personnel, who loaded it on a plane.
Feller received an email from Dover: “Mission accomplished. Package on board to Afghanistan.”
Hours later, he had an email from Mark Harms: “Package arrived. Everyone smiling.”
The smiles faded for a few days while the Seabees went on patrol before they could enjoy the steaks.
Finally, they grilled and ate the steaks.
“They had a good time. They were pretty excited,” Feller said.
“I've got emails from all kinds of kids there. Most of the guys in this battalion are from Omaha, Council Bluffs, Missouri, Grand Island and North Platte,” he said.
The Cuming County Feeders Association paid half the cost, he said, “Other local feeders chipped in the rest.”
Feller asked Mark Harms about the inspection stamp on the Safeway box of beef. The stamp showed the beef came from a Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Nebraska.