GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - “We build. We fight.”
That’s the motto of the Seabees over at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport.
One Seabee has been helping build careers and also mentoring some of the Navy’s up and coming sailors.
The re-enlistment ceremony for Shawn Woodford was nothing too flashy, but a huge moment for Woodford’s career in the U.S. Navy.
The man making sure everything gets done is Culinary Specialist Wayne Ardoin.
Ardoin cooks up gumbo and jambalaya for the Navy but now, the Louisiana native has a new recipe full of career advice and mentoring for new sailors.
“It gives me a broad range of sailors to help advance to help with their career or help with any easy transition into the civilian life, especially for those sailors who transition out of the Navy," said Ardoin. "Sometimes it’s a brutal process. Some sailors could go through a bad experience. I can be that person who changes that sailor’s experience.”
So, is Ardoin’s job glamorous?
Not really, but it’s vital to all the Seabees coming through Gulfport. He’s the guy behind the curtain making sure they’re careers are going in the right direction, sort of like a Navy guidance counselor that always serves as a voice of reason and support. It’s something that is desperately needed in these uncertain times.
“There have been a couple of cases where a sailor decided they wanted to get out but then decided they wanted to stay in, and I was able to help that sailor with that transition," said Ardoin.
Ardoin said his current transition from cook to counselor mirrors what the sailors he deals with are going through day in and day out. And, like a good pot of gumbo, he knows what kind of roux is needed for a Seabee’s career to mix properly.
“I think that I am in a position to help shape the Navy in the future, but also making sailors happy and putting them in the right position," Ardoin said.
A bright future is guaranteed as long as you pull for LSU and eat good Cajun cooking, said Ardoin with a laugh.
Ardoin is a native of Plaisance, La., which he says is part of what’s known as the “Cajun prairie.”