NEWPORT, R.I. - Culinary Specialist Submarine 1st Class Ryan Dicipulo, assigned to the U.S. Naval War College (NWC), has recently made several important achievements while serving in the college’s Office of the President, making him the perfect subject for this month’s NWC Spotlight story. Impressively, he’s made them almost all at once! Dicipulo earned the titles of Sailor of the Quarter and Sailor of the Year on December 2022 and shortly after was promoted to Petty Officer 1st Class through the Navy’s Meritorious Advancement Program (MAP).
Originally from San Diego, CA, Dicipulo joined the Navy based on encouragement from a recruiter who promised opportunities to further his education and travel. Since that meeting in 2014, Dicipulo has certainly accomplished both, earning well-deserved recognition along the way.
During his first tour aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761), based in Groton, CT, Dicipulo deployed twice to the 6th Fleet area of operation. In addition to learning his rate as a culinary specialist and earning his enlisted submarine warfare qualification, Dicipulo was able to travel to six countries.
"Being able to travel overseas prepared me to be a leader because I had to be mindful of my shipmates, making sure that everyone was being safe and smart at all times,” Dicipulo stated. Following his tour aboard Springfield, he took orders to the Naval War College (NWC), looking for an opportunity to practice gourmet cooking. Here, Dicipulo is primarily responsible for food preparation, menu planning and ordering in support of NWC President, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, and members of the staff and faculty who belong to the Flag Mess. The meals he prepares are not only delicious. They provide Flag Mess members with convenient, on-campus access to healthy, nutritious food as they work hard to educate tomorrow’s leaders, inform today’s decision-makers, and conduct outreach in local, regional and international communities. He also plays an important role in hosting senior Navy, Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. government and partner nation leaders. Recently these have included Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.
While serving at NWC, he has also continued his culinary education, earning a Certified Culinary Certificate from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The certificate required Dicipulo to demonstrate proficiency in culinary fundamentals like knife skills and food preparation techniques, and was made possible through the Navy’s Credentialing Opportunities Online (COOL) Program.
“I’m happy that the Navy provided me an opportunity to further my education and skills which helped me become certified in a craft I enjoy and also gave me the ability to teach others who wish to follow."
Dicipulo’s hard work during his three years at NWC made him a strong candidate for the MAP, which authorizes commanding officers to recognize and advance eligible personnel in paygrades E-5 and below to the next higher paygrade when they are deemed ready for additional responsibility. For the young Sailor, this recognition is nothing less than an honor.
“I’ve been trying to get to CSS1 for a while now,” Dicipulo stated, adding that it means a lot to be put in a leadership position, which is of particular importance since he is going back to a submarine next where he will lead junior sailors. “It’s a lot to think about. But everyone has taught me a lot here, and I feel that I am now equipped to give back by helping to train other people.”
Dicipulo’s hard work and commitment also earned him his position as Sailor of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2022 as well as Sailor of the Year for 2022.
As a Petty Officer 2nd Class, Dicipulo took charge of leading staff at, below and above his rank. Additionally, he participated in community service, helped Sailors achieve or maintain mission readiness as an Assistant Command Fitness Leader (ACFL) and assisted with the Navy’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program that provides Navy personnel and their families with a range of well-being activities and services.
“Petty Officer Dicipulo is the epitome of an extraordinary Sailor, working flawlessly at a level above and beyond," said Chief Culinary Specialist Kiana Gadsden, NWC Flag Mess and Protocol departmental leading chief petty officer (DLCPO). “In a sea of stellar Sailors here, he leads by example, meeting every challenge with grace and confidence. He fully deserves this recognition and promotion.”
Today, Dicipulo has a true appreciation for teamwork and credits the Front Office and culinary staff for helping him refine his leadership and culinary skills and for the confidence bestowed on him. For him, it is an amazing recognition, something he will always treasure, especially in light of its competitive nature.
“Defending my deservedness was just nerve-wracking. But being selected made the whole experience worthwhile,” he asserted. “I’m very grateful.”
Dicipulo’s advice to anyone trying to succeed at NWC is to master time management. For Dicipulo, this means taking advantage of opportunities to better oneself personally or professionally, whether via an educational program, an exercise program, time spent with family, or involvement in community service, etc. Dicipulo, for example, is currently working on a Bachelor of Science in Health and Science at American Military University online while he prepares for return to submarine service aboard the fast-attack submarine USS Greeneville (SSN 772).
Dicipulo posits that this appreciation of opportunities big or small is the key to a great NWC experience.
“No matter how small, make good use of time, and you will not leave the college disappointed.”