Washington, D.C. --
The morning sun is just beginning to rise as Cpl. Michael Haynes enters the gate at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., and heads straight for his kitchen workspace.
He will spend the next several hours preparing food for an event hosted by a general officer later that evening.
Haynes is one of only 21 Marines in the entire Corps that can call himself a member of the Marine Aide Program.
The MAP accepts food service specialists from all over the Marine Corps and sends them to the Barracks to train as enlisted aides for the commandant of the Marine Corps and several other senior general officers in the Corps.
Gunnery Sgt. Leland White, MAP operations chief, said that even though MAP Marines do many things for general officers, from preparing uniforms to maintaining
quarters, they are best known for the culinary arts.
“They are highly trained food service specialists, trained to an executive level, displaying the caliber of cooks that we have,” said White.
Haynes, a native of Dickson, Tennessee, said he was deployed to Afghanistan when he was selected for the program.
It was Christmastime, and he had made several apple pies for his Marines when Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, came to visit. The commandant and his wife loved the pies, and within three weeks he was on his way to the Barracks to start the program.
“I was excited because I saw this as a way to advance my culinary skills,” said Haynes.
Haynes’ selection for the program was not typical, but he still had to go through the same application process all MAP hopefuls complete.
“Even though he was hand-picked by the commandant, he still had to submit a package containing a biography among other things so he could come here,” said White.
White said the Marines have to be approved for a security clearance as well as being well-rounded Marines to be considered for MAP.
Haynes said being an enlisted aide is very challenging and the typical work day is from 12 to 14 hours.
“We don’t slow down. We don’t stop. We work, work, work until we get the job done,” said Haynes.
The aides can have up to five events per week.
One event the Barracks is well-known for is the Tuesday Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. The responsibility of entertaining the host and his guests before the parade falls on the MAP Marines.
A parade Tuesday for Haynes begins at 7:30 a.m. when he arrives in the kitchen to start working.
By early afternoon, the aides have split into two groups. One group sets up the reception area while the other group finishes preparing the food. After the reception, they have to break the equipment down and transport it back to the Barracks.
“We do everything from decorations to cooking to logistics to finally cleaning up,” said Haynes. “Our job is strenuous because there is no room for failure.”
He said at the end of every event, MAP Marines sit down to talk about what they did and how to make the next event better.
Even with a busy schedule, they constantly train to become more efficient.
“Every day, I push harder and harder to get better at what I do,” said Haynes.
Haynes said he plans on becoming a chef when he leaves the Corps.
“Being in the MAP program has given me a bright future in the culinary world,” said Haynes.