To The Editor:

Purloined from the pages of “BASIC, Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training,” by Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Jack Jacobs (ret.) and David Fisher, and just in time for Veterans Day, here are the preparation instructions for what may be the most famous, or infamous, meal ever served in the military mess hall.

In polite company, it’s called S.O.S. In military recipe books, it’s called “Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast.”

Originally, the dish was made with thinly sliced dried beef. That became very expensive, so ground beef is substituted. Chef Noah H. Belew, who joined the Marines in the early 1940s, provided the recipe to the book’s author.


1-1/2 pounds extra lean hamburger or ground chuck.

2 tablespoons butter or oleo.

1 cup chopped onion.

3 tablespoons flour.

2 tablespoons granulated garlic.

2 tablespoons soy sauce (or less to taste).

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce.

2 cups milk.

Salt and pepper to taste.


Brown meat, add butter and stir. Add onions and cook until you can see through them. Add flour, stir and cook two or three minutes. Add garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add milk and stir until thickens. Serve over toast or biscuit.

Enjoy your meal!