PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- When most Sailors think of the culinary specialist (CS) rating, they picture Sailors cooking in the galley, mixing cakes in a bakeshop or working the mess decks, but Culinary Specialist Seaman Blake Bentz is making his contribution by maintaining Supply department's S-2 spaces as their damage control petty officer aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
Bentz, who has been in the Navy almost two years, manages approximately 60 spaces, conducts routine zone inspections, serves as a galley watch captain and a bulk storeroom custodian. Expectations are high and the work-load is large, especially for a seaman taking on roles usually reserved for seasoned petty officers, but Bentz enjoys the challenge.
"It's probably my work ethic to be honest," said Bentz. "I have a higher standard for myself. I wanted to stay in the galley, but I try to make the best of wherever they put me. My dad always told me whatever you do, go at it with a smile on your face and it will be 10 times better. A lot of it is just the structure I've grown up with. I know if something has to be done, I make sure it gets done."
His attitude may have come from his dad, but the military aspects have deeper roots in the family tree. His grandfather and cousin both served in the Navy, while one of his other cousins served in the Marines.
"I love the military and the structure," said Bentz. "Every day they tell you exactly what needs to be done. I joined the military at 17 and my parents had to sign a waiver. I'm proud I'm not living off my parents. It's just the sense of pride that I have that I don't depend on them anymore."
Bentz grew up in Ludwich, Michigan, where he developed a love for the culinary arts. He attended his local community college as part of dual enrollment in high school and gained a number of qualifications and certifications including a couple with the National Restaurant Association.
It takes a certain amount of motivation to accomplish these feats and this translates into the diligence and care he puts into his rating.
"I love being a culinary specialist," said Bentz. "One thing I learned while cooking a meal is that the quality of the food can change a Sailor's day. If the food is bad, they'll have a bad day. If the food is good, they'll have a good day and their morale will stay high. People may not think about it, but it's very difficult to feed the amount of people we do every day. I know that every CS still tries their best because they know it's affecting everyone else around the ship."
Even when Bentz has time to cool down during the workday, he tries his best to give a helping hand in the galley and other parts of the division. He has a strong desire to learn about his rating and sharpen skills on a regular basis.
"Bentz is a very exceptional Sailor," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Brandon Allen, galley supervisor. "He has an extremely high standard in S-2. He comes to work with a smile on his face every day and a good attitude. The knowledge this Sailor has about his rating and the Navy itself is well above his paygrade. His take-charge attitude for anything he gets tasked with separates him from his peers."
Bentz plans to stay in the Navy as long as possible in hopes of one day achieving his most sought after goal.
"I want to accomplish the highest enlisted rank-master chief," said Bentz. "If I have enough years in, I might try to become an officer. I want to run my own division one day and be able to help Sailors out with problems they may have. I know master chiefs have a real influence on careers, so that's what I want to do."
Ike is undergoing a Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard during the maintenance phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP).
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