The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Military Sealift Command:
(WASHINGTON) — Military Sealift Command presented its 2011 annual David M. Cook Food Service Excellence awards to dry cargo/ammunition ships USNS Wally Schirra and USNS Richard E. Byrd and fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba at the International Food Service Executives Association’s Joint Military Awards Ceremony April 2 in Schaumburg, Ill.
MSC Commander Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby attended the event and presented the awards during a ceremony with more than 600 attendees, including commanding officers, food service directors, command representatives and food management team members from the U.S. Army, Military Sealift Command and other components of the U.S. Navy.
MSC’s Food Service Excellence awards are presented in three categories: East Coast large ship (Schirra), West Coast large ship (Byrd) and overall small ship (Catawba).
Representing their ships at the ceremony were Chief Steward Wojciech Wiatrowski from Schirra and Supply Officer Christopher Jenkins and Chief Steward Tito Farrales from Byrd. Due to critical mission requirements, Catawba was unable to send a representative.
“When I told the crew [that we won], all I could hear were shouts of joy,” said Wiatrowski. “Each one of us was just a link in a chain. It was a team effort.”
Byrd’s food service team was equally excited to receive the honor. “The staff worked hard for the award and were jubilant when I told them they won,” said Jenkins. “It was a great team effort with everyone pitching in.”
MSC’s leadership also takes great pride in the accomplishments of these winning food service teams.
“I commend all of the food service personnel who participated in this year’s Capt. David M. Cook Food Service Excellence Awards program,” said Buzby when announcing the award winners in January. “Your exceptional efforts keep morale and quality of life at peak levels and contribute to our daily mission success around the world. Congratulations and Bravo Zulu for a job well done!”
According to Roberta Jio, chief of MSC’s food service policy and procedures and the person in charge of the awards, the life of MSC’s civil service mariners at sea can be arduous. Amidst long hours, hard work, rough seas and inclement weather, one of the few pleasant respites during the day is mealtime.
“All of MSC’s ships provide outstanding cuisine and customer care,” said Jio. “But among those that competed for the award this year, these three winners are the cream of the crop and worthy of this recognition.”
The award is named for the late Capt. David M. Cook, MSC’s director of logistics from 1995 to 1998. He launched a focused effort to improve all aspects of the food service operations aboard MSC ships.
Since 1992, Military Sealift Command has singled out several of its East and West Coast ships annually for excellence in their food service operations. For the last 13 years, honors for the winning ships have been part of the IFSEA program.
Contributing food service personnel aboard each winning ship will receive a performance award and a one-week shipboard culinary training session provided by a certified executive chef to further recognize each of the winning food service organizations for their contributions in providing quality meals and service.
MSC operates approximately 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.