By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond D. Diaz III
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Volunteers from Cooks from the Valley paid a visit to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka to provide service members and their families a complementary steak lunch, Nov. 8.
The event was held in conjunction with FLEACT Yokosuka’s annual military family appreciation day.
“We love doing it, but more importantly we love serving the all-volunteer Navy and frankly all of the military because you guys are what make it all go around for our country,” said Tom Anton, founder of Cooks from the Valley.
Anton started the Bakersfield, Calif., based volunteer group in 2001 and since then has served steaks at more than 50 military installations around the globe.
“We have served approximately 185,000 steaks throughout the world and love doing it,” said Anton. “Today, like every other barbeque, we only have volunteers who cook with us. We buy all of the steaks, we bring them, cook them, and serve them.”
Fifty-seven volunteer cooks accompanied Anton on his trip to Japan to prepare and serve, not only steaks, but a full meal including corn on the cob, potato salad, rolls, and steamed veggies.
“It was nice to have some delicious steak,” said Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class Christy Naranjo, stationed at FLEACT Yokosuka. “I’m just grateful for them coming out and supporting us. It shows us that the civilians care about what we are doing and especially for them to come all the way from California to Japan. It even proves to us that we are doing something right, we’re doing something positive and they’re giving back to us. It’s amazing.”
Anton and his volunteers weren’t the only ones to lend a hand during the event. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. Robert Thomas paid a visit to Mr. Anton and his group members. During his visit he even donned an apron and helped cook some steaks. Thomas commented on the efforts of the group and their influence on the morale of the Sailors stationed here.
“I really want to thank the Cooks from the Valley, Tom Anton and the 57 other Americans who came here to give us a taste of home,” said Thomas. “They [the cooks] just came back from being underway with the George Washington Strike Group and this is a significant morale boost for the 20,000 Sailors of the U.S. 7th Fleet. I can’t thank them enough.”