Lake Norman & Mooresville

He was White House food security chief

You could say Mooresville resident Dave Phillips, co-owner of Anchor Security & Locksmith, knows a thing or two about keeping people safe.

The 58-year-old father of three and grandfather of seven has had an illustrious career spanning four decades in the security industry, from working in food security at the White House to handling passenger safety with Homeland Security at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and working with area homeowners associations on keeping their neighborhoods safe.

Like his father, a 20-year Navy veteran, Phillips joined the Navy after graduating high school, in 1971. He served 24 years, working mostly in secure environments requiring high-level clearances, such as in aircraft carriers and submarines.

He spent the last decade of his Navy years serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and the President, acting as the senior enlisted adviser and command master chief, with a variety of operational duties.

His last job was as assistant presidential food service coordinator for the White House Staff Mess from 1992 to 1995. It was during the last two years of President George H.W. Bush's term in office and the first two years of President Bill Clinton's first term.

In that job, Phillips managed three departments (administration, logistics and operations), comprising a 60-person staff of Navy chefs, cooks and valets charged with supporting the President worldwide.

Phillips oversaw all business and culinary aspects at home and abroad, from interviewing Navy cooks for assignment at the White House to hiring and training White House Staff Mess personnel and ordering the food, centerpieces and linens. He traveled to Navy bases around the world, most of the time in military aircraft, although once he flew in an F4 fighter and twice on Air Force One.

When the President hosted dinners abroad, Phillips' crew brought the food. The crew would arrive up to a week in advance to secure, prepare and serve the hosted dinner. The food was flown in fresh before the event.

At home, the Staff Mess prepared and served more than 300 meals a day. They bought food locally from five or six different vendors, which were randomly changed and approved by the Secret Service. Phillips worked in tandem with the Secret Service to keep the President and First Lady safe at all times.

Phillips recalled a memorable time in 1992, when he went on a detail to the Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in San Diego.

"I arrived three days prior to the President to get his suite ready and to discuss meal preparations and service requirements with the food service personnel," he said. "It occurred to me - standing in this massive stadium with just the bomb-detecting dogs and the Secret Service as they installed bulletproof glass - how special it was to have been chosen for this huge responsibility of protecting our President.

"It was humbling moment," Phillips said.

Fortunately, he was never involved in any incident, except one that was seen on video worldwide. At a dinner in Japan, President Bush buckled over his plate, but it turned out he was just suffering from the flu.

Phillips recalled President Bush liked everything except broccoli. "Bill Clinton was a good eater; he ate everything," Phillips said. "Hillary's favorite was a sunflower seed crouton pasta salad."

After retiring from the Navy with 22 awards and decorations, Phillips retired in Mooresville with his wife, Sally. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he re-entered the workforce as the lead transportation security agent and workforce coordinator for the Department of Transportation/Homeland Security at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

He left that job in 2003. Then a mishap - losing his keys in Lake Norman - led him unexpectedly to his next career as co-owner of Anchor Security & Locksmith.

Today Phillips is content speaking at schools and homeowners associations on topics such as "Keeping Your Kids Safe" and "Security at Home and in the Workplace."