Living Memorial For Danny Sermons

Submitter’s Name: Chawntae Donegan
The Service Member’s Name: Danny Sermons
Branch of Service: Army
Rank: Specialist/E-4
Military Job: Ammunition Supply Specialist
Hometown for Service Member:
Dallas, Texas

Submitted by Navarro College student, Chawntae Donegan

Danny Sermons is 37 years old from Jacksonville, Florida but his hometown now is Dallas, Texas.  He was born in 1979.  He served in the Navy and Army for a total of 10 years.  August 1997 to August 2000, he served in the Navy, and from January 2000 to September 2007, he served in the Army.

His service all started after high school; at the age of 18, he made the biggest decision of his life.  Danny never considered going into the military at all.  It was not something he was interested in but it was a spur of the moment decision.  His best friend at the time said, “Hey, I’m going to see this Navy recruiter later on after school do you want to come?”  Danny decided to go with his best friend and made a decision to join the Navy as well and that day was a moment he would never forget.  Later on that day, he went home and told his parents he was joining the navy.  Throughout his whole high school year, he did not have any thought of going into the military but once his best friend mentioned it Danny was “all in.”

Danny wanted to get out of the house and be on his own with his own freedom.  College was something Danny had on his mind but money was a big issue.  He wanted to attend Florida State University and peruse a career in basketball with a backup plan to become a veterinarian.  He had a love for animals but a bigger love for basketball.  He played basketball his first two years of high school but did not play his last two years, which made him less competitive.  He knew most recruiters look at all four years of high school to see if they want that person to be on their teams.  Regardless, if he played basketball or not he still wanted to attend FSU.  Knowing if he did not receive any type of scholarship for basketball to attend FSU, he did not have the money to afford going to the school of his dreams.

Some things that encouraged him to join the military were that the military would help pay for school and he could travel.  He knew that it would be a once in a lifetime thing and that most people his age, who just finish high school, do not get the opportunity to travel, so that would be a plus.

When thinking about going in the military he remembers some movies that he used to watch and thought it would be hard, with people yelling and screaming in his face.  He did not think he would be able to have any type of space but eventually realized that his thinking was not reality.  Danny had a few people in his family that served as well.  Two of his uncles served in the Navy, his biological father served in the Army for four years and his aunt retired from the Air Force.  He talked to his aunt about her experience and found out that she enjoyed her time serving so he then began to think he might have the same experience.  His aunt retired as a Master Sergeant and did a total of 24 years.

Danny joined the Navy and later the Army as an E1, which is the first enlisted rank.  The beginning of his enlistment was Basic Training for both, Navy and Army.  His first day in Basic Training for the Navy was hell! He had never had an experience like the one he did on the first day.  He was in a position where he was stripped of everything he knew.  He says it is was very strict and almost like being in jail, but not the harsh reality of being in jail.  Danny had to go through 3 phases.  Phase 1 in basic training for the Navy was rough.  Adapting to the atmosphere and the military as a whole was hard for him.  He immediately ran into culture shock and did not think he was going to make it.  Entering Phase 1, he had to cut all his hair off because of the uniformity and organization of the military. 

In the second week, he broke completely down.  The only motivation he had was one of his friends he knew in high school told him he could do it and not to give up.  After the end of the third week, he began to get the hang of the military lifestyle.  Out of 20-30 people, at least five do not make it through Phase 1 because they realize it is a physical and mental battle.  Phase 2 they developed more on their fitness as well as their combat skills.  Phase 3 was the last phase of Basic Training and was focused on taking everything they learned in all three phases and executing all of the knowledge. 

He was then assigned to the CV67 USS John F. Kennedy in Jacksonville, Florida.  Danny came in as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH).  He worked on the flight deck of the Kennedy as an Aircraft Handler and his duties included “chocking and chaining.”  His job was to put chains on the jets that were on flight deck while they were parked so they would not move around while on the boat.  He would also put a chock on the front wheel of the jets so they would not roll. 

After Navy Basic Training, the military lifestyle was not that bad for him.  Within in his first year of the Navy, Danny married his high school sweetheart and had a daughter.  Since Danny was stationed in his hometown, he was able to live at home instead of living on the ship.  The only time spent on the ship was during working hours and when the ship went out to sea.  While out to sea, he began to develop a bond with the people that worked alongside him.  He did not like the moments when they went out to sea and did not go to a place – just to sea.  They slept in sleeping quarters called “berthings” where beds were stacked three high with six beds in each section.  Living space was tight but he managed.  He says the ships food was great.  They were able to have three course meals.

He finished his 3-year Navy contract and got out on an honorable discharge.  He was finally 21 but his mindset was not as mature as he thought it was.  He left the Navy without a plan and within four months of being out, he realized he needed to provide for his wife and child.  

Eventually he went back into the military.  He was not too happy about going back but at the time that is all he could do.  He knew he was not going back to the Navy so he tried to join the Air Force because he remembered what his aunt said it was like.  He could not get into the Air Force because his ASVAB test scores were not high enough, so he joined the US Army.

Basic training in the Army was a piece of cake for Danny.  Since he already experienced Navy Basic Training, it was not much of a battle for him.  After completing two and half months of Army’s Basic Training, he was assigned to a Longbow Apache Helicopter Unit at Ft. Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas for one year of training.  After that, he was assigned to Germany for three years.  Danny only received two and a half days of vacation time per month.  The good thing was that if he did not use the vacation time, he could let the days build up to take a longer vacation.  All in all, Danny says the living lifestyle was not as bad as one may think.

In the Army, Danny was an Ammunition Supply Specialist.  He supplied ammunition for the unit he worked for and was assigned to that job for five years.  His last two years he switched his job to a Petroleum Supply Specialist, where he then supplied fuel for his unit.  The pay depended on what your rank was.  E1 was paid between $800-$900 a month.  As the rank goes up, the pay goes up about $200 dollars.  They were paid every 1st and 15th of each month.

One war that Danny experienced while he was in the Army was the Iraq War from 2003-2004.  The operation was called Operation Iraqi Freedom.  In the Navy, he went to the Persian Gulf and his aircraft carrier was the only Navy vessel deployed at sea coming into the millennium.

Some good memories Danny had were being able to travel.  Danny traveled to many countries and was able to see and experience different things.  Danny visited the island of Malta, the Virgin Islands, Germany, Poland, the Persian Gulf, Dubai, the country of Jordan and many more.  One interesting thing Danny saw was the Rock of Gibraltar.  His favorite place to visit was Dubai.  He thought that it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever been.

While serving in the Army, he realized what he wanted to be in life; which was a designer and film creator.  Danny always had ideas of becoming a designer in high school but did not think too much of it.  After his time in Iraq he made the decision to follow his dreams, so when he got out in 2007, that is just what he did.  He attended Wade College of Dallas, where he received his degree in Design and KD College of Dallas where he received his degree in Film.  He wants to use both degrees to further his career.  As of 2016, Danny is a designer and has been working for 10 years.  He is continuing to build his vision as a designer.

Leadership is one of many things Danny learned while serving in the military.  His maturity as a man has gotten better over the years.  His knowledge and what he learned has helped him out a lot.  He is now able to adapt faster than others to where he is capable to push through struggles he comes across.  Experiencing Iraq in 2003 during a war time, he was able to adapt better than he would have if he didn’t serve the time he did because while he was there he always had to be alert and aware, not knowing what the next move would be.  The basic training and mental training he went through prepared him things like war.

If Danny could stand on a stage and give my generation some advice about the military, he said to have an open mind about it.  He does not think one should go off what someone else tells him or her.  He says just because one person had a hard time in the military does not mean another person would.  Be smart about the decisions you make and ask yourself what is the reasoning behind what you want to do.  Have a plan for what you are trying to do and where you want to go in life.  Without a plan, you will not get anywhere.

Danny thinks most of our generation just goes with the flow and does not have a plan for their lives.  He does not think we set goals for ourselves and stick to them.  If someone were to join the military, then he or she should maximize their situation to the fullest.  He believes our generation is very creative and adventurous so we should be able to come up with a plan and run with it.  Finally, yet very important, is to be willing to learn new things and do not give up on your dreams.