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Recipe for Success: Marine Earns Culinary Title

By Marine Corps Sgt. Clemente Garcia 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

JACKSONVILLE, N.C., Aug. 9, 2017 — The food service chief for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is the Marine Corps' fiscal year 2017 Food Service Specialist of the Year in the active duty staff noncommissioned officer category of the Maj. Gen. William P. T. Hill Memorial Awards Program for Food Service Excellence.

The program was started to foster a competitive spirit that improves food service excellence and increases quality of life for Marines and sailors, and it is based on professionalism, devotion to duty and technical expertise, officials said.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kevin M. Johnson is "absolutely deserving of this award," said Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Edwin R. Holloway, the food service chief for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. "He's not only good at his job, but he also embodies the full Marine concept," he added.

Each year, the program gives awards in four different categories: active duty NCO, reserve NCO, active duty staff NCO and reserve staff NCO. Although Johnson earned the Food Service NCO of the Year Award as a sergeant in 2012, the excitement of his achievement was not lost on him.

Career Milestone

"I was shaking after I found out," Johnson said. "I was ecstatic due to the fact that I had won in two different categories. I view it as a career milestone to have won as an NCO and as a staff NCO."

Johnson was nominated for the award for his work at Headquarters Regiment, 2nd Marine Logistics Group as a staff NCO in charge, where his leadership abilities and professionalism left a lasting impression on his fellow Marines.

"Staff Sergeant Johnson has demonstrated maturity beyond his years and a hunger to improve himself and those surrounding him," said Marine Corps Capt. Jose E. Alvarado, a logistics officer with the regiment. "He routinely exceeds expectations and performs in a manner equal to a seasoned gunnery sergeant."

Johnson's career as a food service specialist began in 2006, when he attended the Basic Food Service Course at Fort Lee, Va. His passion for the culinary arts has been the main drive to excel in this field, he said. "I've always enjoyed making food for other people," he added. "I love putting joy on their face from a hot meal."

Personable Approach

As a leader, Johnson is known for being approachable and willing to teach Marines under his charge. Johnson takes a personable approach when mentoring and teaching about food service.

"He's a very hands-on staff sergeant and is always physically engaged with the Marines," said Damian A. Sullivan, the group food service officer. "As Marines talk, they say very positive things about him, because he's engaged and because he teaches them things. He gets kneecap-to-kneecap with Marines and educates them on how food service operations are supposed to be run."

This year's winners will be recognized at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone Campus in Napa Valley, California. Winners of the four different categories will receive a plaque during the event.

"This is an honor that many Marines in my field strive for, and I am just grateful to be able to receive such award," Johnson said. "Knowing yourself and seeking self-improvement is the only way to become better -- and making an impact not only on your Marines, but the institution. Nothing is impossible if you put the time and effort in to it."

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