Canton Native is Navy Culinary Specialist on USS Essex

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2021) Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Paolo Salanga, from Canton, Mich., poses for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), Nov. 16. Essex and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joe Rolfe)

By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A Canton, Michigan, native is serving aboard USS Essex, a U.S. Navy Wasp class amphibious assault ship.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Paolo Salanga is a 2007 Plymouth High School graduate and 2019 graduate of Brandman University. Today, Salanga serves as a Navy culinary specialist. 

“I am a chef that puts my heart and soul into every product I make,” said Salanga. “These products boost the morale of a crew of 2500.”

Salanga joined the Navy nine years ago for the opportunities serving provides.

“I wanted to travel, see the world and finish my education in criminal justice,” said Salanga. 

According to Salanga, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Canton.

“I learned in Canton to treat people with respect and have an open mind,” said Salanga. 

Homeported in San Diego, California, USS Essex is the second ship in the Wasp-class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships and the fifth ship named for Essex County, Massachusetts. Essex was a 1000-ton ironclad river gunboat of the U.S. Army and later U.S. Navy during the American Civil War.

According to Navy officials, amphibious assault ships are designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned, as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.

“My favorite part about serving aboard USS Essex is meeting new people and making friendships of a lifetime once my Navy career is over,” said Salanga. 

Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Salanga is most proud of earning the Enlisted Surface Warfare Pin and earning an associate degree in applied science from Brandman University while on shore duty.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Salanga, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“Serving in the Navy means having life experiences that you can cherish for a lifetime,” added Salanga. ” It is taking a leap of faith that everything will work out.”