Fifty-three year old Sim Wynn Jr. hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted into the military in 1987, and will remain in the Army Reserves until the age of 59. It was his love for cooking that drew him into the military. Even now, while in the Reserves, he serves as a cook. On many nights throughout the week, one can find Sim selling military pins and patches at a booth in front of the Lincoln Memorial, on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C.
During the nights I was able to photograph and interview Sim, he shared an abundance of stories with me. Many of his memories are triggered by an array of photographs he keeps organized in numerous well-kept albums. The quotes used here, are excerpts from statements Sim made during our times together.
“My first day in the military was April fools day, the first. It was my best and worst day because when I came in, nobody sent me off except for my sister, because nobody believed I was going into the military at that time.”
“All the little superficial things mean nothing. When you die, you take none of that with you. When you’re born you didn’t have anything in the beginning. If we were living in some of these third world countries, we wouldn’t have half of this stuff we live with.”
“We had a little trailer like this called the “wolf burger.” You could come there 24 hours a day; eat hamburgers, hotdogs, and fries or chips, even after you eat regular. So if you wanted to get fat, that was the place to be.”
“Some of my roommates, all rangers, and you know two of those guys didn’t make it back home, good guys. Matter of fact these two were from Pennsylvania, so you know we clicked it real good since I’m from Pennsylvania too.”
“Free vacations if you want to call it. Basically cooks would just cook breakfast and dinner. Lunch is an MRE or they fend for themselves. But we got a lot of time, but when we do work, we had to work hard.”
“There’s nothing worse than eating somebody’s food that they are like a mean type cook. They don’t have their heart in it; you don’t want to eat it for real. It’s like a little spirit thing, if you see a mean cook back there, there’s going to be problems.”
“Cooks were cooks and we really weren’t part of the military or company until it was time to eat.”