ARABIAN GULF – In an impromptu break in protocol during Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12’s change of command aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Rear Adm. Andrew Lewis meritoriously promoted Frederic Gilmore to petty officer first class, July 21 in what was another step forward in an unlikely Navy career.
A culinary school graduate, Gilmore had years of food industry experience and a passion for the culinary arts, but he had little aspiration for a military career until the economic recession altered his plans.
Looking for greater opportunity, the Bronx native enlisted to be a culinary specialist, but life at his first duty station, the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), was not all smooth sailing.
“My first [food service officer] kept me in line the whole time, but he had to move me away from the habits that I had,” said Gilmore. “I had a big mouth on me and I thought that I knew it all. It was a good experience [the first couple of years in the Navy] because once I learned that my first and second classes were there for me and not trying to work against me then I was more open to suggestions and the way the Navy did things.”
Gilmore began his career in the culinary field at about 18 years old. He continued working in the food industry for seven years, holding jobs in various restaurants between New York and New Jersey. He attended Johnson & Wales University for a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, which he later completed at a hometown culinary school in Asbury Park, New Jersey. When he entered the Navy, Gilmore could be hot-tempered, his discipline was lacking sometimes, and as an older Sailor he found it especially difficult to adjust to Navy life.
“The guys we get nowadays are young so we can train them the way that we want to,” said Gilmore. “You get a guy in the military that has a lot of experience and he’s going to be set in his ways and so then he won’t be as open to suggestions.”
Gilmore worked hard to adapt to the Navy and his efforts did not go unnoticed.
Before his food service officer transferred from the Wasp, he wrote Gilmore a letter of recommendation to work in the flag mess community after which Gilmore received orders to serve on the CSG 12 staff. Gilmore welcomed the challenge, ready to commit to meeting the high expectations of working in a flag mess.
“I don’t believe in staying too complacent,” said Gilmore. “Monotony will kill you, in my opinion, so you have to go out and do something new. I would definitely say you have to change up your routine sometimes. That being said, for me, I change up the way I carry myself and what I am going to do, the type of food I am going to do, what I am going to learn, the type of jobs I want to do.”
Nurtured from an uncertain start, Gilmore’s career has blossomed into a successful one. Not only is he now a first class petty officer, he has also obtained orders to work in Washington D.C. for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO), a prestigious billet in the culinary specialist field.
“It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be different. I am going to have to keep working on those things I’ve been working on like my [attitude] but it’s a challenge I want. A challenge to take on for my career and it’s something that I definitely strive for,” said Gilmore.
When asked whether or not Gilmore could see himself making a career out of the Navy, he explained that it is still a matter that he is taking his time on.
“I say that I will do 20 [years] but I would also like to open up my own deli or gym in Jersey,” said Gilmore. “I have a business plan for that option. If I get out at 41 years old I know that I have that plan for myself. If I stay in the Navy I know I want to put on khakis so first I want to become a chief and then after that probably go the officer route.”
One thing remains certain and that is Gilmore’s passion for the culinary arts. Whether it is making a career out of the Navy or returning to the civilian world to open up his own business, Gilmore knows his talents have a lot to offer and he has the drive to match.
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the TRCSG, which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
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