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Buckley selects front range chili champions

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Chili Cook-Off judges, Doug Carroll, 460th Space Wing Director of Staff and Chief Master Sgt. Arleen Heath, 460th SW Command Chief, try the different chilis at the Sixth Annual Chapel Chili Cook-Off on Jan. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Chili Cook-Off judges, Doug Carroll, 460th Space Wing Director of Staff and Chief Master Sgt. Arleen Heath, 460th SW Command Chief, try the different chilis at the Sixth Annual Chapel Chili Cook-Off on Jan. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- From left to right, Master Sgt. Rick Hiltman, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant, Best Hot Chili; Master David Zulli accepting on behalf of his mother Cindy Zulli for Best Red Chili; Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong, Chief Master Sgt. Dale Armstrong's wife, Best Green Chili, Best Overall Chili, People's Choice Chili and Best Cornbread; retired Master Sgt. Ms. Cathy Ingraham, Most Unique Chili; and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dan Zulli, 460th Space Wing Chaplain. The base chapel held its Sixth Annual Chili Cook-Off on Jan. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- From left to right, Master Sgt. Rick Hiltman, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant, Best Hot Chili; Master David Zulli accepting on behalf of his mother Cindy Zulli for Best Red Chili; Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong, Chief Master Sgt. Dale Armstrong's wife, Best Green Chili, Best Overall Chili, People's Choice Chili and Best Cornbread; retired Master Sgt. Ms. Cathy Ingraham, Most Unique Chili; and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dan Zulli, 460th Space Wing Chaplain. The base chapel held its Sixth Annual Chili Cook-Off on Jan. 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The call went out months ago for contenders to the crown in the sixth Annual Buckley Chili Cook-off that took place at the Chapel Jan. 21.

Everyone within hearing distance of the internet knew to be there. It's not our fault that F.E. Warren, Shriever, Peterson Air Force Bases and the Air Force Academy didn't show to claim the title, "Best Uniformed Chili on the Front Range."

The event was officially sanctioned by Team Buckley, overseen by the base judge advocate general and base chaplain; and officiated by the 460th Space Wing director of staff and command chief. To further bolster our claim of Front Range champs, we also had the 460th Space Wing vice commander, Col. Charlotte Wilson, in attendance steadying the capsaicin-infused atmosphere, and the base civil engineer, to measure energy savings due to natural gas output. Those are our credentials.

There were fourteen entries to include green chili, red chili, bean chili, no-bean chili, sweet chili, strange chili and chili so hot, there were firemen in attendance.

Chief Master Sgt. Arleen Heath, 460th SW Command Chief, joined Mr. Doug Carroll, 460th SW Director of Staff, in the difficult task of judging between the good, the bad and the ugly. They tried them all.

"We didn't realize how full all those little cups could make you," said Chief Heath.

No one in this office was able to sample through the entire circuit, but along with our new friends from the 566th Intelligence Squadron, we were spiking our bowls with corn chips, sour cream, cheese and cornbread.

Steam was rising from collars, faces were turning red and the time had come to declare the chili champions.

Chief Heath and Mr. Carroll had selected all the winners except the People's Choice Award, which the crowd weighed in on. Chief Heath announced the results:

Best Red Chili -- Mrs. Cindy Zulli, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dan Zulli's wife
Best Green Chili -- Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong, Chief Master Sgt. Dale Armstrong's wife Most Unique Chili -- retired Master Sgt. Cathy Ingraham
Best Hot Chili -- Master Sgt. Rick Hiltman, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron first sergeant Best Overall Chili -- Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong
People's Choice Chili -- Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong
Best Cornbread -- Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong

An evolving trend was Mrs. Anna Marie Armstrong, who had laid claim to many of the awards. She cleaned up by winning most of the categories including Best Cornbread, and a mean cornbread it was too, still warm, with green chilies and corn kernels.

"I got butterflies in my stomach when I heard my number," said the four-time winner, and Front Range Uniformed Chili Champ. "It was very surreal. I was very excited."

Mrs. Armstrong shared that her Crock Pot had been given to her, used, by her mother. The vessel dated back to the 1970's. Thirty-years-old and still putting out award-winning chili -- still on mission -- there's something inspiring about that.
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