- A USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) sailor shares his story about being temporary assigned to the ship's enlisted mess decks as a food service attendant.
The job of a food service attendant, or FSA, referred to by Sailors as "cranking", provides an irreplaceable service that all ranks benefit from. They assist culinary specialists with food serving and numerous daily tasks, from washing thousands of dishes, to taking out thousands of pound of garbage after each meal.
Immediately upon setting foot into the S-2 galley, I heard through the raucousness a loud distant laughing voice proclaim. "I am the way the truth and the light of this galley. I'm a morale booster!" and instantly knew I had found my story.
"He is one of the funniest guys to crank with," said Electronics Technician Seaman Zachary Crisp, a former FSA. "He'll bust out in song. When we were in the deep sink last underway, it was interesting, to say the least. He definitely made washing dishes not so bad."
Meet the song singing, self proclaiming morale booster, Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman (AW) Zebulon Petties, a food service attendant with Supply Department's S-2 division (enlisted galley).
Originally from Memphis, Tenn. Petties has a knack for computers. He earned an associate's degree in computer science and worked as a computer technician for Apple, Inc. Despite a successful two years with the company, he wasn't satisfied and sought out new possibilities in the Navy.
"I wanted more. I wanted to travel and go back to school so I considered the military," said Petties. "Plus I wanted to grow my resume and the military looks good on a resume." Petties has been on FSA duty for almost three months and brings his own personal touch to the job.
"I always come in with a sunny attitude and try and increase morale and have fun," said Petties. "You know you want to make the experience as good as possible. You can't come in here mad. You got to smile about it. It's only temporary. You just got to take the good with the bad."
With only five days left with S-2 before returning to Air Department's V-1 division, Petties is now looking back and ahead.
"In my honest opinion, cranking makes you a better person for your division and it gives you more patience. You get a taste of what it's like to feed the crew. When you come down here you respect the mess decks and don't just throw your food anywhere. You have way more respect for those
guys that make your meal because you get a taste of what they go through and it's not all hard work. You get to have fun every now and then" said Petties.
Petties has two years remaining on his enlisted contract and says he plans to make the most out of it.
"I just want to make some rank and see if I can ride it out. Maybe possibly do 20. So far I like it. It pays the bills and you get to travel plus you have great benefits."