ABOARD USS WASP, At Sea (NNS) -- In today's Navy, many common terms have a long history that only some know. If you mention "jack o' the dust" to a sailor, they may not know what it means, especially if they haven't worked as a JOD.
In the Navy for almost four years, two of them spent on board USS Wasp, Fire Controlman 3rd Class Miles Courtright is temporarily assigned to food service duty working as the jack o' the dust. He is finding out what the saying means.
"When I first heard the term, I just thought it had to do with brooms, foxtails, dustpans and anything else that came with cleaning," said Courtright, a native of Sioux Falls, S.D. "Now I know it's more than cleaning. I have learned that it means breaking out food for the different galleys."
When reporting to the fleet for the first time after A school, hearing the term jack o' the dust wasn't new for 18-year Navy veteran Chief Mess Management Specialist (SW/AW) Ross Murphy. The term derived from the commissary man in charge of loading stores. Knowing a little history gave him a head start on knowing Navy lingo.
"I can remember that the term originated from the British Navy," said Murphy of San Antonio. "It came from back when the ships were made of wood and dust would fall between the cracks down to the food that was stored below. Mainly, the foods that were brought on board were dry goods and carried a lot of dust on the packages."
Mess Management Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) William Sowels heard the term for the first time when he came into the Navy nine years ago. "When I first heard the term, I didn't know what to think," said Sowels of Midland, Mich. "I was pretty sure it had something to do with cleaning."
Many sailors and Marines on board Wasp assigned as JOD have learned what the acronym means, and learn there is more to it than what it sounds like.
"I like working as a JOD," said Interior communications Electrician 3rd Class Michael Eaton of Florence, N.J. "Without us, the cooks wouldn't be able to cook, and it would be a little hard for them to go down below to get the food and have to prepare it, too. With our help, they can perform their duties with a little ease. When I heard the term for the first time, I thought I was going to work with dirty people in dirty places, but it didn't turn out that way."
For JOD crew, the breakout of stores can last a long or short time, depending on what is needed for the different galleys. One good part of JOD is getting a good workout passing around the boxes, according to Sowels.
"When some of us can't make it to the gym, this is good for us," admits Sowels. "Our daily breakouts are somewhere around 150 to 200 cases of food for all of the galleys. Making sure there is an accurate inventory three days a week is the only difficult thing about being part of JOD."
During the stand-down before the deployment started, Wasp's JOD took on more than 450 pallets of food without the help of a working party.
"At the beginning of deployment, Wasp left Norfolk with $1.6 million worth of food," said Murphy. "Since then, we have taken on about $500,000 to $600,000 worth each month."
On an average replenishment at sea, Wasp receives about 200 pallets of food. Sticking within a budget, Wasp manages to keep fresh fruit and vegetables, freezer and dry foods in stock. Only being able to store fresh fruit and vegetables for up to 90 days, sometimes some is a lost.
"Our biggest loss will come when we hit Rota, Spain, if all of the fruit and vegetables aren't gone yet," said Murphy. "In order to pass the agriculture test, we can't have any fresh fruit and vegetables left over."
On his first deployment, Lance Cpl. Eduardo Arroyo has been temporarily assigned to JOD. He has learned how the ship operates its food distribution to several galleys on board.
"The job isn't that difficult," said Arroyo of Brownsville, Texas. "Being able to get the job done in a timely manner and allowing the crew to eat is what we are here for."
The sailors and Marines sent temporarily to JOD leave their original duties to do something different and learn an old Navy term. Now they know that mess duties involve a lot more than just cooking and cleaning.
For more USS Wasp news, go to www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd1.