Military News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Face of Defense: Mess Sergeant Makes Most of Culinary Experience

By Army Staff Sgt. Paul Roberts
314th Press Camp Headquarters

SMARDAN TRAINING AREA, Romania, March 31, 2015 – Army Sgt. Raheem Johnson isn’t your typical “mess sergeant” in Forward Support Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

Johnson, who hails from Philadelphia, had almost seven years of experience in the culinary field before joining the Army.

He earned his certification in the culinary arts with the Job Corps in Philadelphia and proceeded to work for universities and local restaurants before embarking on a new career path, he said. Johnson chose the military occupational specialty 92G -- food service specialist -- one he has been working in for eight years now.

“Right now the path that I’m on, I’m very happy,” Johnson said.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” he added.

Johnson said his previous culinary experience enabled him to “fast track” while in advanced individual training. Instead of having to go through the full nine-week course, he cut the time in half because of the level of his certification.

“Actually, I’ve exceeded some of my own expectations as far as where I’m at right now,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he’s decided to make the Army a career. His ultimate goal, he added, is to achieve the pinnacle enlisted rank of sergeant major of the Army before he retires.

Leading Soldiers

As a new leader, Johnson said he doesn’t find his challenges come in the kitchen, but in the management of soldiers.

“Just as far as being a leader, a new leader, getting to know soldiers and trying to get the mission accomplished and at the same time, cater to your soldiers’ needs,” Johnson said, has been the challenge.

Even though he has been invited to join culinary competition teams, Johnson said, he doesn’t enjoy competition as much as he enjoys being in the kitchen and working with his soldiers.

“I just enjoy cooking,” he said with a smile. “I enjoy teaching.”

Johnson said he is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experiences with his soldiers and knows that if he isn’t sharing what he knows, then he isn’t the leader that they deserve and need.

“You have to be very logical and have your head in the game when you’re cooking,” he explained. “Your mental stability will be tested.”

Johnson said for him, the ability to share his passion, his drive and his knowledge with soldiers is the highest calling and leads to the true molding of the future in his career field.

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