Banana bread man delivers 75,000th loaf to USCENTCOM
by Army Spc. Claude Flowers
Albert Davis of Largo, Fla., may have retired from the United States Navy in 1973, but he's still serving his country, and doing all that he can for the military. For the last 15 years, he and his wife Barbara have been diligently baking loaves of banana bread for American troops serving around the world
Seven an hour, 94 per day, every day - so many in fact that on Oct. 14, the couple presented Gen. John Abizaid, Commander of U. S. Central Command, with their 75,000th loaf during a ceremony here.
The couple began baking pumpkin bread in 1988 for patients at the Base Hospital.
"It wasn't every week," Mrs. Davis explained. "It might be on the holidays - Thanksgiving, Halloween."
The launch of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm prompted the couple to move in a new direction once they heard reports that troops weren't eating a potassium-rich diet.
"They were having problems with bananas rotting on the pallets in the desert. That's when we started making the banana bread," Mrs. Davis said. "We developed a recipe, we had it checked, it was good, really high potassium content banana bread. It tasted good. It took us two months to get a recipe that would hold together."
Even after Desert Storm ended, they continued to cook. Today, servicemembers participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are the recipients of their generosity.
"It's funny, as I travel around the theater, I see the loaves of banana bread all over the place," General Abizaid said. "I've seen them in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in other places, and I've certainly seen them in our headquarters."
The couple started delivering to CENTCOM's Tampa headquarters in 2002. That September, they presented then-commander Gen. Tommy Franks with their 25,000th loaf.
They now have their aspirations set on baking 100,000 loaves and said it's the gratitude that keeps them motivated.
"With the military protecting our shores and the world in general, we at home can do nothing better than to support them," Mr. Davis said.
At the ceremony, General Abizaid told the Davises that their hard work is appreciated.
"On behalf of all of us at CENTCOM, thanks for all of your support. We can't win the war without the support of the American people," said General Abizaid. "When people go over and above the call of duty like you folks have done, we can only give you our eternal gratitude."