PHILLIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy has culinary specialists on all of its vessels to feed the crew a healthy balanced diet. On Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Marcus Wallace can often be found mixing spices or flipping burgers on the grill.
Wallace, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., said before the Navy, his life was starting to go down a darker path starting his senior year of high school. His sister, while active duty in the U.S Air Force, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the time.
"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."
Unfortunately, Wallace said, his grades started dropping because of the stress. He pushed forward to graduate from high school, but the same trends continued through 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 help better my life."
Wallace said that 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 first got to 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," Wallace said. "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."
Wallace is seen as a talented culinary specialist with exceptional skills, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Emmanuel Appiahkubi, one of Wallace's supervisors, said.
"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 is missing family, being so far apart from them in Japan. But he said he has found a new family in his 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.
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