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In the Spotlight

19 August 2022

From Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay, Naval Air Station Sigonella Public Affairs Office

Most people spend a lifetime checking off items on their bucket lists but Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Darius Shirley, from Byram, Mississippi, has almost completed his travel bucket since he joined the Navy in January 2015, with only Asia and South America still left on his list of places of visit.
Most people spend a lifetime checking off items on their bucket lists but Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Darius Shirley, from Byram, Mississippi, has almost completed his travel bucket since he joined the Navy in January 2015, with only Asia and South America still left on his list of places of visit.

Shirley has spent the past two years working for the housing department of Naval Air Station Sigonella.

While his primary responsibilities are to the housing department, he has spent the last three weeks currently working at the base’s award-winning Ristorante Bella Etna galley. Shirley is learning and handling the administrative side but also gets to help with his favorite aspect of being a culinary specialist: cooking and meal prep.

When watching him work, Shirley displays an intensely focused and serious demeanor but the moment he starts interacting with his co-workers or customers, his face transforms with an easy smile. Shirley says the best thing about his job is getting to interact with people.

“Getting to know people not only for job-related purposes but on a personal level as well,” clarified Shirley on why he enjoys socializing with people at work.

Shirley also has the added responsibility of a resident advisor as a collateral duty, and is responsible for a team of four RAs in taking care of all after-hours emergencies and assisting barracks residents.

“Shirley is my subject matter expert for housing along with galley operations, and is continuing to strive and succeed in any tasks given to him,” said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Joseph Clem, the housing departmental leading petty officer.

The admiration and recognition of Shirley’s work by his leadership is echoed by how Shirley feels working for his chain of command.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have good leadership throughout my entire career so far,” remarked Shirley and he continued by saying he could name at least two people from each command he’s been at that have acted as mentors to him, assisting him both personally and professionally.

“I have had the honor of working with CS3 Shirley for almost two years now,” added Clem. “CS3 is an extraordinary petty officer who demonstrates the maturity, leadership and dedication we seek to find in our Navy.”

In his off-time, Shirley enjoys sports and watching TV and since COVID-19 restrictions have started to lift, he tries to make the most of the added freedom by exploring Sicily and traveling.

One of his biggest off-time passions is shopping, specifically collecting shoes. For Shirley, his collection is not about the latest sneaker trends or the new “must-haves” but more so about any shoe that sparks his interest.

Having moved overseas, his collection took a bit of a hit in regards to the shoeboxes themselves so he says he is working on getting new boxes while at the same time still adding to his collection.

His future goals are to pick up rank and advance to 2nd class petty officer, and he hopes that his next duty station will lead him to Japan, giving him a chance to mark off a few more items on his travel bucket list.

Reflecting on the last seven and half years, Shirley says he believes he made the right choice in joining the Navy and that serving to him means making his family proud.

Overall, Shirley likes to go with the flow and just take things a day at a time. He enjoys living in the moment and taking things as they come, a lot like his favorite saying, “there will be better days even during dark times.”

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