FORWARD OPERATING BASE LIGHTNING, Afghanistan – For most
of the soldiers working at the gate at Forward Operating
Base Lightning, Afghanistan on February 27, 2014 ... it seemed to be just
another routine day. Routine for everyone except Spc. Dany
Gromov, a rifleman with 1st Platoon, Dog Company of the 1st
Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team,
10th Mountain Division, who sees each day as being one step
closer to turning his dream into reality.
Each day is
an opportunity for Gromov; because if, it had not been for a
chance inter-continental move and inspiration from one of
his parents, his life would have been very different and far
from what he wants it to be like someday.
from a town near the Russian capital city of Moscow and
laughs when he tells people he is from Moscow because
doesn't he doesn't believe anyone has ever heard of his
February 27, 2014 -
Spc. Dany Gromov, a rifleman with 1st Platoon, Dog Company of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, occupies his position at one of the gates at Forward Operating Base Lightning, Afghanistan, where he is responsible for ensuring visitors and vehicles coming in or out are clear of any security threats. The Spartans of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team are deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Javier Amador, Task Force Spartan Public Affairs)
“I tell everyone I'm from Moscow, since
nobody knows the original city I'm from, which is Puschino,
about 30 miles from Moscow,” said Gromov.
to the United States with his grandmother in 2008. He was 14
years old when he had to learn a whole new way of life and
related some of the cultural differences he experienced.
“It was shocking because in Russia, there are mostly
Caucasians. So when I came to the airport, there were so
many kinds of people,” said Gromov.. “I have never seen so
many different kinds of people.”
The variety of
people was only the first difference he noticed but it was
the way Americans interacted with each other that also had
an effect on him.
“When I first went outside of my
grandfather's house for a walk, people were saying hello to
me and I saw them saying hello to each other, In Russia,
people don't really talk to each other on the street.”
School was the first place where he saw the nearly
endless possibilities he had for what he wanted to do with
his life. He described the Russian school system as a
limited, one- size, fits-all program.
the variety of classes you can take and being able to study
whatever subject you want was great. You could take a class
on fixing cars, or botany or math if you want to. In Russia,
it's a standard program and there is nothing you can do if
you don't like it.”
Gromov also described how
physical violence among the students is a frequent part of
the Russian high school student culture, something which he
had to change.
“In Russian high schools, there are a
lot of bullies, and people fight a lot. When I first came to
the United States, I got in trouble after I started a fight
with someone, and it was pretty embarrassing because nobody
else was really starting anything, so it was a very good
Eventually, his school days came to an end
and the question of what he wanted to do for a living had to
be answered. The answer to that question was luckily, close
at hand since his father is currently serving in the United
States Air Force.
“The biggest part of my decision
came from my father who always encouraged me, He would show
me videos of the different career fields on the Internet.”
It was a video of some U.S. Army Infantry soldiers in
action that really caught his eye,, and it was then that he
decided he wanted to be a soldier.
“There were these
guys, with their uniforms and their shades with their
weapons looking really cool, so as I went through the rest
of school, I thought about it and decided I really wanted to
join the Army.”
Gromov finished school and enlisted
in the Army. After completing his training, he eventually
was assigned to his current unit. His self-described
ambitiousness and drive quickly caught the eye of his squad
leader, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin Gravett, who described
“He's explosive, he's got a really
aggressive, take--charge kind of personality,” said Gravett.
“He's also very kind, very friendly and works very well with
others. He's one of my best soldiers.”
personality traits, along with his determination are what
Gromov is counting on to achieve his eventual goal for his
Army career, which is to become a member of the Army's
Special Forces. He is quick to point out soldiers will only
get out of their careers what they put into them.
you don't do anything in the Army and you just go with the
flow, you're not going to get much out of it,” said Gromov.
“You actually have to strive, work hard and be disciplined
in order to get somewhere.”
Gromov also sees the
nearly endless number of career choices available to
soldiers in the Army which he eagerly shares with soldiers
who think they have no options.
“The Army has an
insane number of opportunities as long as you're squared
away and you do what you're supposed to do. You can go with
Special Forces, or the Army Rangers, or even become a
journalist,” said Gromov.
His eagerness to push
himself, to know more and to continuously develop himself is
also a trait that has been noticed and appreciated by his
“He's amazing, he's like a
sponge, wanting to learn more and more,” said Gravett, “He
not only wants to know how to do something, he wants to know
how to do it well and once he knows it well, he wants to do
Gravett definitely sees Gromov
achieving his goal and thinks he will be an asset to any
unit or team that gets him. Gravett also knows that even
though there are obstacles in Gromov's path, such as needing
to improve his score on the General Technical portion of the
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, he will do
whatever it takes to overcome them.
“I think he would
be a great asset to the Special Forces and I highly
encourage him to go for it,” said Gravett. . “He's working
on improving his GT score and will not allow anyone to tell
him he can't do something.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Javier Amador
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