I had planned on posting this story for Father’s Day…. But, I am terrible about waiting.
Seriously, If I could celebrate Christmas in November, I would! And Gosh… My Birthday should always be celebrated at least four months early and then three months early and then two months…
Back on track ~ Command Sgt. Maj. Daniels exemplifies fatherhood in the Military. Hugs to all our Military Dads.
1st Cavalry News
‘Dark Horse’ leader reflects on what it takes to be an Army Dad
By Spc. Alexis Harrison
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – In the movie “We Were Soldiers” a young lieutenant who’d recently become a father asks Mel Gibson’s character, Lt. Col. Hal Moore, what he thought about being a Soldier and a father.
“I hope that being good at one makes me better at the other,” Moore replied.
Moore’s words spoke volumes about the relationship a father has with his children and the relationship a leader has with his Soldiers. For one senior noncommissioned officer, the word leadership is completely synonymous with fatherhood.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels, the top noncommissioned officer for the 4th “Dark Horse” Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, has been in the Army for more than two and a half decades. Although his military career is long and, according to him, nowhere near close to an end, it’s only about a year longer than he has been a father.
Twenty-five years ago, Daniels enlisted into the military with full support from his entire family. Two of his brothers were already in, so it made the decision a little easier on his family. They knew what to expect. More importantly, his father, a pastor at the time, gave him his blessing.
“He was a great mentor,” he said. “I followed him everywhere he went. He had his Bible; I had my Bible.
“He told me to cherish your family,” Daniels recalled. “They will always be there for you through thick and thin. You will always have your family to fall back on. The closer you are to your family, the stronger the bonds are, and no one can break those ties.”
Daniels said that his father had a huge role in his own fathering skills after he had his first child, Latrice.
Shortly after having his first child, Daniels was assigned to a station in Germany where his dependants weren’t allowed to go with him. This was his first test as a father in the military
“[The deployment] taught me that being away and still having that bond, you really don’t lose anything,” he said.
Early in Daniels’ career, things like mid-tour leave didn’t exist. He and his family had to rely on the bonds created from triumph and tragedy.
His first child was killed in a motor vehicle accident when he was only 18 years old. Although the pain was great, Daniels said it made his family even stronger.
“It strengthens you,” he said. “It makes you closer as a family to lose a loved one, much like during a deployment.”
Daniels’ advice to fathers not only in his squadron, but to all service members is simple: build strong relationships and bonds with your family while you can. They’ll rely on those bonds while you’re away. He noted that if good bonds are made, they are almost impossible to break and your family will appreciate its time with you that much more.
The troops from the Dark Horse Squadron, who Daniels watches over, have a multi-faceted job in Iraq. Not only do they guard the base with heavy machine guns atop towers along its perimeter; they maintain peace in what used to be a violent, volatile area just north of the International Zone in the heart of the city.
For many fathers in 4-9, this isn’t the first time away from their families. Although the many veterans are well-honed warriors, they admit that leaving their wives, daughters, sons and friends doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times they do it.
To help his Soldiers, Daniels assumes the role of a father figure every time he sees them. He said that many of the little things like a pat on the back or a few words of encouragement can make all the difference.
The origin of Father’s Day can be traced back as far as 1909 when Sonora Smart-Dodd first came up with the idea to honor her father for what he’d done.
William Smart was a Civil War veteran who was widowed and left to raise his six children on a farm near Spokane, Wash.
Dodd was at a Mother’s Day sermon when the idea came to her. About a year later, the mayor of Spokane chose the month of June to celebrate the American father because June was the month of William Smart’s birthday.
It wasn’t until 1966 when former President Lyndon Johnson declared the third Sunday in June to be considered Father’s Day for a national observance.
In 1972, former President Richard Nixon signed the bill making it law declaring Father’s Day a national holiday.
For people like Daniels, it’s more than just a holiday, especially while he’s deployed. It’s a time for him to reflect on not only his accomplishments, but those of his children and his Soldiers.
Daniels said one of the most rewarding things about being a father and a leader is watching those you look after flourish and grow into something to be proud of. Whether it be his children attending college with aspirations of becoming doctors, or his Soldiers making it to the next rank of responsibility, Daniels said seeing them succeed is about as rewarding as it gets to him.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels, the senior noncommissioned officer for 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was a keynote speaker during his brigade’s Black History Month celebration in February. During this Father’s Day holiday Daniels takes time to reflect on what it takes to make a good father and leader because he said that the two are basically the same. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels, the senior noncommissioned officer for 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, gets ready to toss a pass to one of his fellow Black Jack Brigade Soldiers during a visit to a dinner in Baghdad’s International Zone. During this Father’s Day holiday Daniels takes time to reflect on what it takes to make a good father and leader because he said that the two are basically the same. (U.S. Army photo by Spc Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)
Command Sgt. Maj. James Daniels, the senior noncommissioned officer for 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, stands with his wife, Marilyn, and two daughters, Demeka and Janel, during a family gathering. Daniels credits much of what he’s able to do as a father to his family being strong and constantly supportive. (Courtesy photo)