Cooks are the unsung heroes in an Army unit. Working long hours with little fanfare or recognition, cooks provide Soldiers with something that highly affects overall morale — chow.

One cook assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division has distinguished himself among his peers while providing that crucial morale booster to his fellow paratroopers at Fort Bragg, and also in remote locations in southern Afghanistan.

Spc. Thomas Martin, was recognized as the installation cook of the quarter May 9, at the XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters.

For Martin, Family tradition, the opportunity to cook and the thrill of jumping out of a “perfectly good” airplane were the reasons he join the United States Army.

“I wanted to be a paratrooper and follow in the footsteps of my father and my grandfather,” said Martin, who is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT.

“They were proud of me when I graduated Airborne School, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment as well,” he said. Combat service is also a Family thing for Martin, who said that his grandfather served in Vietnam and his father served in Iraq.

Moreover, Martin’s love of cooking began in high school. He said that cooking can be challenging, but also rewarding.

“I can spend hours cooking any dish,” he said. “I usually try to challenge myself and cook dishes that are more complicated, though. Those types of dishes tend to be more scrumptious,” he added.

Martin was recognized at both the brigade and division level before competing for the installation award. He competed against other cooks from across the post and had to go before a board where he was quizzed on his knowledge of food service operations. He also took part in a cook-off that ultimately determined the winner of the competition.

“It took a lot of hard work and dedication on his behalf to make it this far,” said Staff Sgt. Tristen Grayson, from Jewitt, Texas, also assigned to 1st Bn. 508th PIR, 4th BCT.

Grayson said Martin is a stellar paratrooper and is someone who is motivated to succeed.

“He’s one of the most squared-away cooks here in the DFAC (dining facility),” said Grayson. “He’s what you look for in a Paratrooper nowadays.”

Martin says he enjoys working in the dining facility and doesn’t mind the lack of star power that eludes those who wear the Army’s cook white uniform.

“All of us in the dining facility understand that we have an important job. We don’t need the constant accolades or front page news coverage to validate that,” said Martin.