In the service: Plainfield resident Tom Mannix, 78, has spent most of his adult life around food, first as a U.S. Navy cook and then with various civilian companies. Mannix enlisted at age 17 after stopping in at a New Jersey recruiting station in 1959. “Before I knew it, I was in the Navy,” he said. After basic and advanced training, Mannix was assigned to the USS Pursuit, the first of two survey ships he worked the chow line on. “It was a lot of on-the-job training with 80 or so sailors that got fed four times a day by three cooks,” he said. Mannix was later transferred to the USS Serrano whose mission was to take water depth soundings in the Gulf of Siam in the South China Sea to ensure charts and maps were accurate. “This was right before the start of the Vietnam War and we’d sometimes have oceanographers aboard,” he said. After 15 years cooking on surface ships, Mannix re-enlisted, attended the navy’s advanced commissary and submarine schools before serving on three subs as a cook. In addition to his culinary job, Mannix also served as a career counselor, providing re-enlistment and school information to his shipmates.