Living The Dream
(April 6, 2011)
|April 2, 2011 -- "I have a third-grade yearbook. It has all of our pictures in it. Everybody's got what they want to be when they grow up: an astronaut, a doctor, a professional ball player or whatever. I wanted to be an Army man. I've wanted to be in the Army as far back as I can remember. So it's all I ever wanted. It's all I've ever done.”|
|It's hard to picture the 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pound Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Cordell, a soldier with the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), as an 8-year-old child in the “small country town” of Cordova, Ala., dreaming of being the man he has become today.|
Limited imagination aside, not many people who set a course at the age of 8 actually travel the uncertain road of life and end up at their planned destination when they've reached adulthood.
Cordell is now 35 years old and has been in the Army for 15 years. He came in the service as an active-duty soldier and spent the first six and a half years of his military
Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Cordell, the non-commissioned officer in charge of military intelligence with the 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditonary) and members of his core workout group take a break from their daily workout on April 2, 2011. This group consists of Master Sgt. Matthew Neumann, Sgt Javier Pagan, Maj. Robert Webb, Staff Sgt. Clark Potter, Sgt. 1st Class Scott Wiliams, and Staff Sgt. Jesse Hartman.
|career in the infantry before reclassifying to work in military intelligence.|
|He has been deployed six times: once in 1999 to Bosnia as a member of an infantry unit, three times from November 2001 through January 2004 to Kuwait with a military intelligence battalion, once to Baghdad with a civil affairs unit in 2006, and his latest deployment began here with the 103rd ESC last June. |
As a husband and father of three, Cordell admitted his service, including the multiple deployments, has been “bittersweet” at times. His mood grew a little somber as he discussed how his children felt about his job in the Army.
“I know they're proud, especially my son,” he said.
He went on to say his oldest daughter in particular was also starting to have regrets about him being gone so much, and it was hard to be away from them.
“I try not to let it affect my motivation or my job,” he said.
Being separated from one's family and friends can be difficult, so some may think ‘How does a soldier not let this affect his or her motivation?'
“I put myself out there for all these people to depend on me so if I couldn't show up or if I couldn't perform, then I would be letting people down, and I'm not going to let that happen,” he said.
Even though being a soldier was all he ever wanted to do, when Cordell was faced with the choice of staying in the military or gaining custody of his two oldest children from his first marriage, it wasn't much of a choice at all.
“The judge told my lawyer if I wanted them I had to be home,” Cordell said. “Of course I got out.”
After a year and a half of separation from the Army, Cordell re-enlisted in the Army Reserve in October 2001. The battalion he was assigned to mobilized a month later.
“When Sept. 11 happened, I went and joined the reserves,” Cordell said.
In 2004 after his mobilization, Cordell spent approximately six months as a drilling Reservist and unit administrator before he joined the Active Guard Reserve in Alabama. In February of last year, he completed a permanent change of station to Iowa to accept a position with the 103rd ESC.
As the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of military intelligence for the 103rd ESC, Cordell is responsible for managing and training the analysts under him to gather and compile information into “a product that people can make sense of.”
“Sgt. 1st Class Cordell is exactly what an NCO should be,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lensch, the force protection NCOIC with the 103rd ESC, and a Des Moines, Iowa, native. “He holds himself and soldiers to the highest standards and never lets them quit. I know that everyone tries a little harder when Sgt. 1st Class Cordell is around.” However, the extent of his effort goes far beyond where his job description ends.
In addition to his NCOIC duties, Cordell also developed and ran the Soldier and NCO of the month boards, was a member of the 103rd ESC personal security detachment, and assisted countless Soldiers with their physical training.
“I don't think hardly a day went by that someone, sometimes not even in our unit, would come up to him and ask a question regarding health, diet or working out,” Lensch said.
“As far as PT training, it's just something I've always loved,” Cordell said. “I love learning and pushing the limits, but I think even more, I like seeing people accomplish their fitness goals.”
For this reason, Cordell is pursuing a bachelor's degree in health and sports science.
As Cordell's roommate for the length of this deployment, Lensch said he witnessed Cordell get up early in the morning to work out with a group of soldiers, work out with a different group in the afternoon, and work out with yet another group in the evening after working a 12-hour shift.
“Anything that can be done to help other soldiers, I try to do it,” Cordell said.
“He is definitely dedicated to his job as well as giving an incredible amount of free time to help soldiers with their physical fitness,” said Staff Sgt. Scott Williams, the support operations medical logistics NCOIC with the 103rd ESC, and an Iowa City, Iowa, native.
It is this dedication and effort that earned him the Bronze Star Medal and Army Achievement Medal at an awards ceremony held in the Provider Chapel here recently.
When asked about the two awards he received, Cordell put his modesty on display saying it was “kind of embarrassing” because he didn't feel that he had done anything to deserve recognition above his peers.
“I didn't do anything that other people didn't do,” Cordell said. “I call it just doing what I'm supposed to do as an NCO and a person.”
Cordell has always felt as a person he was obligated to succeed and push himself to new limits.
“To be honest, all of that comes from fear of failing, no matter what it's in,” Cordell said. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be the best at everything I do, and I can't stand to feel like I've let someone down.”
This is Cordell's way of channeling his fears and using them to his advantage. Fortunately for the 103rd ESC, it was to their advantage as well.
“I believe that the overall fitness and morale of many soldiers would not be what it is if it wasn't for [Cordell] showing them the way and giving them the tools they needed to succeed,” Lensch said.
As the 103rd ESC prepares to leave the country, Cordell will return home to resume the duties of being the man of the house. He will return as a man awarded for his dedication. He will return being a man that made a difference in the lives of the Soldiers he deployed with. He will return as a respected man in the Army who was once a boy that wanted to be an Army man.
|Article and photo by Army Sgt. Stephen Scott|
310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command
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