A Seymour man who spends his days cooking for the crew of a minesweeper stationed in Japan put his culinary skills to use at home during the holidays.

Seaman E-3 Josiah Prewitt couldn’t resist the call to action by his mother when she asked him to cook for the Community Diner’s monthly meal Jan. 5.

Community Diner was formed a couple of years ago with the purpose of serving meals to those in need of a hot meal once a month. The meals are now being served by local organizations and church groups at the Seymour Community Center. In February, they will start being served each Monday at First United Methodist Church at Third and Ewing streets.

Prewitt’s mother, Betty Shuler of Seymour, has been a member of the Community Diner’s board for a year or so now.

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“I knew we were going to be doing this when he was going to be home, so I asked him if he would help,” Shuler said. “He said, ‘Sure.’”

Prewitt, who arrived home Dec. 19 and leaves today, said he didn’t mind the chance to flex his cooking skills for the Community Diner meal.

Cooking, however, was not the 22-year-old’s first career choice.

The 2010 graduate of Seymour High School spent a year at Vincennes University studying criminal justice with an eye toward law enforcement.

He said he struggled with grades and decided to join the Navy.

To get a quick start on his naval career, he decided to enter the field of culinary science.

“For anything else, I was going to have to wait several months to get into the Navy,” Prewitt said. “I wanted to get out of Seymour and see the world.”

He certainly has had a chance to do so.

After attending boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois, Prewitt went to Fort Lee in New Jersey to learn how to be a Navy cook.

He’s now serving on the USS Pioneer, an Avenger-class minesweeper stationed at the Sasebo Naval Base in Japan. He originally was assigned to the minesweeper Avenger, which was decommissioned.

Shuler said she’s glad her son found his way to the Navy and became a cook because it has helped him become focused.

“He has ADD (attention deficit disorder),” she said.

For the recent Community Diner meal, Prewitt and volunteers with The Tabernacle prepared the meal. His task was cooking the chicken breasts and making sure they were prepared properly and to the right temperature.

“It’s one of his favorite things to cook,” Shuler said of chicken.

Prewitt said he loves cooking with chicken because it has good taste, supplies good protein and is healthy.

“I like making honey-baked chicken and chicken barbecue,” he said.

Prewitt said he has learned how to cook a variety of foods while cooking three meals a day for 85 to 90 sailors on board a naval vessel.

“We’re on a 21-day rotation,” he said. That means the same meals are served 21 days apart, but that is still plenty of opportunities to hone your cooking skills, he said.

That includes making shrimp jambalaya and pizza casserole, two of his favorite dishes.

Prewitt said his plans are to join the Navy Reserve at the end of his four-year hitch and head back to school to resume his pursuit of a career in criminal justice and law enforcement.

The best part of that is the Navy will be picking up the bill, he said, just as it has paid for everything, including his health insurance, since he enlisted.

Betty Shuler, her husband, Randy Shuler, and their daughter, Hannah Shuler, had the chance to visit him in Japan during his first year there.

Betty Shuler said they enjoyed the trip and hope to be able to do it again this year.

Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.