Makin Island Wins Prestigious Ney Award for Excellence in Food Service
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - The Supply department aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) was named winner of the 2012 Capt. Edward F. Ney Memorial Award for Food Service Excellence, Feb. 3.
The announcement was made by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus via official naval message in ALNAV 010/12, released Feb. 3. Makin Island, the Pacific Fleet finalist, beat out Atlantic Fleet finalist USS Bataan (LHD 5) to take top honors in the large afloat category of the competition.
The Ney awards program is co-sponsored by the secretary of the Navy and the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA). Ney awards encourage excellence in Navy food service programs, with the objective of improving the quality of life for Navy personnel.
An evaluation team, made up of senior Navy culinary specialists as well as IFSEA representatives, visited Makin Island last fall during a surprise inspection of the ship's food service facilities. The results of that inspection elevated them to the position of Pacific Fleet finalist and made the ship eligible for the overall award.
"Tremendous teamwork, engaged leadership, commitment to excellence and execution with precision goes into winning the Ney Award," said Cmdr. Carla Meyers, Makin Island's supply officer. "The Makin Island food service team is absolutely phenomenal and enjoys showcasing their talents to the crew every day."
Meyers said she credits the combined talents of the culinary specialists, food service attendants, mess decks master-at-arms and engineering department personnel committed to effecting timely repairs on equipment deficiencies for the award.
Master Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Igmedio "Julio" Iglesia, Makin Island's food service division leading chief petty officer, said the award had a lot to do with junior personnel attending the culinary specialist school during the ship's precommissioning period.
Iglesia also expressed great appreciation for those outside of the normal food service division for their help in winning the award.
"I would like to thank all the previous and current FSAs [food service attendants], and the mess decks masters-at-arms who made this quest a success," said Iglesia. "They are the ones who helped us set the high standard of sanitation and cleanliness."
Makin Island's selection for the award marks Iglesia's 11th career Ney Award and Meyers firmly believes Iglesia's experience and leadership played a major role in the ship's selection.
"He had signs posted all around stating 'Think Ney every day!'," said Meyers. "His subtle hint and lots of training worked."
Highlighting the level of food service experience aboard Makin Island, Meyers also said that the ship's food service officer had previously served on the White House staff for former President George W. Bush.
Meyers said the culinary specialists on board Makin Island are not only good cooks, they are good Sailors as well, with most of them holding dual enlisted warfare qualifications.
Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) James Nagle, leading petty officer for the food service division, said he attributes his team's success to hard work and dedication from all Sailors and Marines involved in serving the crew.
"It is an honor to win this prestigious award," said Nagle. "The team we have, from our food service attendants all the way up to the senior leadership on Makin Island, is the reason we earned this award."
For Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Michael Ferrara who works as an assistant galley watch captain, preparation for the award meant many extra hours for the galley staff and food service attendants.
"The Ney Award is more than just a pat on the back, it's more like winning the Super Bowl," said Ferrara.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.