ARABIAN GULF - Sailors aboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) entered the mess decks, Nov. 7, much like they do every other day, but this day they received a rare and unique surprise. On this occasion their Command Master Chief, who also served pizza, other chiefs served dinner and the first class petty officers wiped tables and shuttled trays back and forth.
The enlisted leadership took over Food Service Assistant (FSA) duties for a night of parmesan cheese-grating and table-cleaning fun.
FSAs are temporarily assigned to duty in the galley. Their normal tasks include serving food, cleaning tables, washing dishes, restocking cups and utensils, and general sanitation in the galley.
Chief Personnel Specialist Jason Tillery, from Fort Worth, Texas, said it was Information Systems Technician 1st Class Mark Gaskill, from San Diego, who came up with the idea of “FSA Appreciation Night” and the chiefs jumped on board. The event came together as a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) 365 team building event.
“We had all the first classes from the most junior, to the most senior,” says Tillery. “It was a team effort and built camaraderie between the first class petty officers and the chiefs. We were motivated to do something nice because those FSAs do a heck of a job; a thankless job most of the time.”
Chiefs and first class petty officers worked together as one team to make it a positive experience for Sailors.
“How we work together as chiefs and the first classes makes a positive difference in the lives of our Sailors,” said Tillery.
The event was a way for leadership to say thank you to all of the hard working FSA’s.
“I know they appreciate us because we work hard and they tell us they appreciate it. It was a nice little break off,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Shante Mitchell, from St Louis, a FSA.
Tillery said the mentality of the chiefs’ mess aboard Harpers Ferry is to serve their crew because they believe it’s important to take care of Sailors.
“I worked all those years to be a chief. I love being a chief and all the chiefs on Harpers Ferry love it too and we want to serve,” said Tillery. “That’s our mentality mission first, Sailors always.”
Gaskill said he knows what it feels like because he was once a FSA.
“It shows the junior guys that we do appreciate them and understand what they go through. We’ve been through it too, and so it’s nice to see them get a day off,” said Gaskill.