A 2017 Randall High School graduate and Amarillo  native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason.

Navy Seaman Apprentice Colten Landrum is a culinary specialist aboard the warship, based in Norfolk, Virginia. USS Mason is named after Secretary of the Navy John Young Mason and Distinguished Flying Cross Recipient Ensign Newton Henry Mason.

A Navy culinary specialist is responsible for planning, preparing and serving meals for over 300 sailors every day. They maintain food service spaces and associated equipment including storerooms and refrigerated spaces.

“I like learning something new and serving my country at the same time,” Landrum said.

Landrum credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Amarillo.

“Back home I was always taught to earn an honest living and in the Navy, I believe I'm doing that while enjoying my job,” Landrum said.

U.S. Navy sailors, like Landrum, are stationed both stateside and on the high seas aboard surface ships around the world. USS Mason is one of more than 60 ships on the east coast of the United States as part of Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

U.S. Navy ships are deployed globally, and their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is vital to project power, secure common areas, deter aggression and assure allies when and where desired.

Due to its extensive combat capability, the Mason is able to fire Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and other weapons as part of sustained combat operations against targets on and below the sea, in addition to hitting targets hundreds of miles over the land.

The ship is equipped with the Aegis Combat System, which integrates the ship’s electronic sensors and weapons systems to defend against anti-ship missile threats. The ship’s air search and fire control radar provides continuous search and tracking of hundreds targets simultaneously.

The crew of more than 300 sailors build a strong fellowship while working alongside each other. The sailors are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions as part of a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

“Being on a destroyer is really cool," Landrum said. "It's a battleship with guns. I had the opportunity to witness the firing of a five-inch gun first-hand.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Landrum is most proud of deciding to join the Navy.

“It was a great decision," Landrum said. "I get to be somewhat of a Navy ambassador to the community I grew up in.”

 As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Landrum and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy means keeping the water safe and protecting our country," Landrum added. "Being a part of something bigger than myself gives me a sense of pride.”