For one Navy culinary specialist and Virginia Beach native, hard times for his family helped to plant the seed of what has now become his career.
The Navy has culinary specialists on all of its vessels, tasked with feeding the crew a healthy, balanced diet. On the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Marcus Wallace is a cook. He can often be found mixing spices or flipping burger patties on the grill.
Before the Navy though, Wallace said his life was heading down a darker path as he started his senior year of high school.
His sister, on active duty in the Air Force at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to live alone because my mom would help my sister through her surgery and treatment,” Wallace said. “Sometimes she would be gone a couple months at a time, starting from the middle of senior year, so I had to start cooking for myself. I loved cooking since middle school, but I started asking my mom how to cook different foods and started actively going to the grocery store.”
His grades started dropping because of the stress. He pushed forward though and graduated high school, but the troubles continued during college. He started failing classes even after his sister was cleared of cancer.
“Things weren’t going well in my classes. I skipped them, didn’t do assignments and ended up quitting my job,” Wallace said. “I was going to end up on the wrong track. After speaking with my stepdad, a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy, he convinced me to join and helped me better my life.”
Wallace said because of his time in the Navy he has matured a significant amount as an individual.
“I’m still the same as my family and friends remembered me as, just more responsible and mature,” Wallace said. “I’ve gotten a little better at managing my time and sorting out my priorities, as well as seriously considering what I want to do in the future.”
Wallace said when he initially arrived at his current command he was nervous about his new life, and that it wasn’t until he started working in the galley that he started to feel normal again.
“With cooking in the Navy, you cook for over 300 people in a short amount of time. You can’t be as fancy or creative as you would like it to be, but it’s still cooking and my passion. It gives me the feeling of a fulfilled and satisfied day,” he said.
Wallace is seen as a talented culinary specialist with exceptional skills, said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Emmanuel Appiahkubi, one of Wallace’s supervisors.
“He comes to work with a great, positive attitude, ready to work and always trying to make someone happy,” Appiahkubi said. “Wallace is a very good team player, who is always willing to help others when his tasks are completed. He asks a lot of questions to better his knowledge on what to do in and out of the galley. He is always seeking for any opportunity to improve.”
Wallace said it can be difficult when he has missing family, being in Japan and so far apart from them. But he said he has found a family in his new shipmates in the galley.
“Everyone gets along just really well,” Wallace said. “We treat each other like brothers and sisters always trying to help each other out. Overall, I love my working environment. “
Chancellorsville is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
This story was submitted by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sarah Myers, USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) Public Affairs.