Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Pullin of Jenkinsburg is a culinary specialist aboard the USS Whidbey Island operating out of Little Creek, Va.

NORFOLK, Va. — A Jenkinsburg native and 2014 Jackson High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Whidbey Island, a warship which transports and launches U.S. Marines from sea to shore as part of amphibious assault operations.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Pullin is a culinary specialist aboard the dock landing ship operating out of Little Creek, Va.

A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for improving morale by providing nutritious meals to sailors on board the ship.

Pullin credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Jenkinsburg.

“My hometown taught me southern hospitality and great cooking skills,” said Pullin. “I brought these traits to the Navy and applied it in the galley to customer service.”

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Pullin is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy, Navy officials said.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Sailors’ jobs are varied aboard this ship. About 300 men and women currently make up the ship’s crew. An additional 400 Marines can be embarked, and the ship is capable of transporting these Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters and landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) vehicles.

“Every day I am amazed by the men and women of Whidbey Island,” said Cmdr. Jean Marie Sullivan, the USS Whidbey Island commanding officer. “Their steadfast devotion to the ship, mental toughness to overcome any challenge and complete commitment to their fellow shipmates truly inspires. Whidbey Island sailors are why we can answer the call and go where it matters, when it matters.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Pullin is most proud of being advanced to the rank of second class petty officer within five years.

“I had to apply long days and nights of studying to get advanced,” said Pullin. “I’m proud of being advanced because I checked into my ship as a seaman, and I’m finishing up my tour as an E5.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Pullin, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Pullin is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My father and grandfather served in the Army,” said Pullin. “I also had an uncle who served in the Marines and another uncle who served in the Navy. They always talked about their experiences of traveling the world and learning different cultures. It motivated me to go and see what the world had to offer as well.

“Serving in the Navy means that I get to give back to my country and community back home,” Pullin added. “I can be an example to the youth that the world has so much more to offer than just the small town we grew up in.”