Today's mission for the crew is weapons training, but they are typically transporting vital training equipment for exercises and engagements across the Pacific for both Army Soldiers and Marines.
The winds are high and the waves are causing the vessel to powerfully sway in a back and forth motion. The cooks on board are sliding around the closet size galley (kitchen) as they chop vegetables to prepare meals for the day ahead. U.S. Army Sgt. James Munar laughs as he slides into the wall with a spatula in one hand and a bowl in the other and tells the newer Soldier, "Welcome to the boat life."
Munar, a Paloma, California native, is a culinary specialist on board the LSV-2, with the 605th Transportation Detachment, 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
He loves his job as a crew member on one of only eight LSV's in the Army, but admits he didn't know what to expect when he arrived.
"I was overwhelmed on my first day, I didn't even know the Army had boats and now I would be cooking on one of them," said Munar. "I knew it was going to be different than a regular Army dining facility. It was a challenge at first, but I am used to it now. I just prepare the meals and sometimes I have to catch things as they fall and the boat is rocking."
Munar and his two Soldiers feed the 31 crewmembers on board breakfast, lunch and dinner while they are out to sea. He takes the opportunity to be in charge of his galley and gets creative with meal options.
"In a dining facility things are pretty strict when it comes to menu items and seasonings you can use," Munar said. "I like to get my Soldiers involved and we all come up with meal ideas as a team. We experiment with different ingredients and try to feed the crew food they will love."
The morale of the crewmembers is often dependent on the quality of the meal they receive according to Sgt. 1st Class Donald Dinsmore, a watercraft operator and the Detachment Sergeant of the CW3 Harold A. Clinger with the 605th Transportation Detachment, 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
"If Sgt. Munar and his team serve a meal that is on point, you can just see the crew's morale go up," said Dinsmore. "People are happier and more willing to push through their tasks with a smile. We work in close quarters, so if the meal is great we get to thank him and tell him we loved it, and if it isn't they let him know that too."
Munar serves his meals with pride knowing he was able to whip up something unique for the crew.
"When the crew tells me they loved dinner or thank me for the meal it gives me pride because I know that it didn't just come off of a recipe card. It came from something my team cooked up," Munar said. "I feel a responsibility to keep morale high on the boat and I try and do that every day. Everyone on this vessel works really hard and eating good food is a good reward."
Munar is also the armorer aboard the LSV-2 and has designated tasks for emergency situations. He trains with the crew and tries to pitch in on other tasks in any way he can.
"I love this assignment," Munar declares. "If I can re-enlist to stay on the LSV-2, I would do it in a heartbeat."