YOKOSUKA, JAPAN - Upon arriving to his assignment aboard the already underway USS George Washington, Petty Officer 3rd Class Walt Morris made Navy history by becoming the first ever non-Filipino Culinary Specialist.
After finishing the basic course at the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence in Ft. Lee, VA, he arrived on the George Washington and met the rest of the galley staff, whom he described as being "polite" and "curious" about his presence.
Culinary Specialists are responsible for operating and managing Navy messes and living quarters. But to hungry sailors, their most important functions are preparing and serving meals.
For breaking the galley's color barrier, Navy officials are hailing the multiracial Morris — who describes himself as "a true American mutt" with a "mix of white, some kind of Spanish, and 1/16th Cherokee" — as the "Jackie Robinson of the Navy."
Vice Admiral Bill Higgins flew out to the George Washington to meet Morris in person and shake his hand.
"You are doing your country and the Navy a great service," Higgins said to the visibly nervous Morris, "by showing that those of us who are not Filipino can also work in a Navy galley."
Morris has been working round-the-clock to learn the ropes, and many sailors have praised Morris' enthusiasm.
"This man try very hard," CS1 Ramon Montez said. "He is new. I mess up too when I was new. Not as bad as he, but you know."
Montez listed several of Morris' mishaps so far, including burning the powdered eggs at breakfast, adding the wrong amount of milk to a vat of chocolate pudding, and forgetting to put the nozzle on a hose while cleaning the kitchen so that he drenched everyone working.
Montez smirked and shrugged with his palms up. "I guess it most important that he try," Montez said.
For Higgins' visit, Morris prepared vegetable broth soup for the Vice Admiral's lunch.
"We give him something easy," Montez said.
When Higgins sat down at the dining table, he asked his aides, "Is this the soup that was prepared by the young man? Super."
Higgins took a sip of the soup, furrowed his brow, and then slammed his spoon down. "Take this shit away," he yelled. "Get me some real food right now before I throw someone off this goddamn ship."
For his part, Morris is remaining upbeat.
"I fucked up," Morris said. "The recruiter told me that going CS was encroaching on the Manila Mafia's territory, but I didn't listen. They shout orders out in Tagalog. They make me go to karaoke night in one of the common rooms every other night, even though I want to go to sleep. And I don't follow boxing, so when they asked me who my favorite boxer was, I said Floyd Mayweather because I remembered the name from ESPN. No one talked to me for the rest of the day."
Morris shook his head. "As soon as possible, I'm gonna get out and do something completely different so that I never have to see another Filipino ever again."
"Maybe I can cross-rate into dental," Morris said. "I might like a job there."