Soldier's Journey From Enlisted To Officer
For most military members, getting to the top of your rank structure is the goal. But for one driven Guardsman, getting to the top was just the beginning.
Once Command Sergeant Major, now 1st Lieutenant Daniel Truex, Maneuver and Support Officer for the 198th Military Police Battalion and soon to be the executive officer for the 617th Military Police Company, is an example of taking on challenges and pursuing a goal no matter the obstacles.
His decision to join the Commissioned Officer Corps was unique due to his high rank. He had become the senior non-commissioned officer and was in charge of maintaining the welfare of his troops in the 198th Military Police Battalion. But he wanted to do more; he was driven to take command.
“The first reason is that I wanted the responsibility of command,” said Truex. “Having observed some of what command entailed from the perspective of a 1st Sergeant and Command Sergeant Major, I knew that it could be a burden but at the same time a tremendous honor and challenge. I want that challenge. It’s the same reason that I asked for ‘guaranteed’ infantry when I enlisted in the Marine Corps. At the time I couldn’t imagine being a Marine and not infantry. Here, I can’t imagine being an officer and not wanting command and the responsibility that comes with that.”
Truex joined the National Guard several months after the events on September 11, 2001. But it wasn’t his first time he had served in the military.
“I was prior service Marine Corps and actually finished my four years with them in August 2001. Once I realized I wasn’t going to get called back up, I enlisted in the Kentucky Army National Guard with the 223rd Military Police Company. I joined primarily because I missed serving but also due to the events of 9/11,” said Truex.
Truex admits his initial foray into military service was kind of a fluke.
“My decision to join the military had almost no thought put into it. I certainly don’t recommend that course of action. I was driving to the University of Louisville to speak with an admissions counselor when I drove by a Marine Corps Recruiting Station. Three days later I was headed to boot camp.”
His military career has taken him to a lot of different places and allowed him to lead and influence many Soldiers on and off the battle field.
He joined the Marine Corps in 1997 and served four years in the Infantry and did two non-combat deployments.
With the National Guard, he started off as an MP.
“I’ve served in just about every enlisted function,” added Truex. “I’ve deployed three times to Iraq. The first time was as a team leader in 2002-2003 as part of the initial movement into Iraq. That deployment I made it as far north as Baghdad but most of the time was spent in southern Iraq doing convoy escorts.
The second time was as a squad leader in 2004-2005 when the insurgency was in full swing. Most of the time was in Baghdad doing main supply route patrols and convoy escorts. The third time was also Baghdad for Operation New Dawn in 2011. It was very interesting seeing it from start to finish.”
He was promoted to Master Sergeant after completing his fifth deployment. From there he became the First Sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, then the 940th MP Company. He then got promoted in the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 198th MP BN where he served as Operations Sergeant Major before finishing his enlisted career as the Command Sergeant Major for the 198th MP BN.
“I had an amazing enlisted career and I would largely credit my success to the Soldiers with whom I served, he said”
The challenge of becoming an officer was still on the horizon and he hadn’t met all his goals. So at 40-years old, he decided to chase a new goal to someday become the Battalion Commander for the 198th MP Battalion.
He received a direct commission and then completed Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) where he graduated in 2017 as a 2nd Lieutenant.
Once Truex got into the new realm of being an officer, there were some adjustments to overcome.
“It honestly has been an easier transition than I thought,” he said. “It's certainly a great way to ensure that you maintain a level of humility. Not just because of the role change but because it serves as a reminder that there's a lot you have to learn (or relearn).”
He went on to say that it took a bit of getting used to; going from the operational level back to the tactical level.
“Realizing what was and wasn’t my lane also took some adjustment. As a Command Sgt. Major, just about everything is in “your lane” in some regards. As a 2nd Lt, I can assure you, no one wants your sage advice, because that’s not your role. Your lane becomes much narrower.”
Although he has left the NCO ranks, he wants them all to know how important to mission success they are.
“I want to make it clear that I have a tremendous amount of respect for the NCO Corps,” said Truex. “As a military we simply would not be successful on any level without them.”
Truex also added that he has always had a “terrible sense of direction,” so in that aspect, his transition to a 2nd Lieutenant was a “natural fit.”
More To The Man
Truex’s military career is only half of his story. On the civilian side, he is a Lieutenant with the Lexington Police Department and CEO of his own startup company.
He created a security company and is spearheading a wellness page on Facebook aimed at helping those on the front lines both at home and abroad to improve their mental fitness.
“I just started a Facebook group called Night Shift Nutrition, aimed at helping Soldiers, first responders, and other night shift workers to live healthier, happier lives,” he said “I’m excited about this opportunity to take everything I’ve learned from over a decade of working nights and help others. My second hobby is another company I am co-owner of and CEO for, Guardian Security. We provide approximately 2,500 hours a week of physical security throughout Central Kentucky.”
He has a very supportive and beautiful family. He’s been married to his wife Melissa for 11 years and has two daughters, Olivia and Amelia.
“The fact that they support me in my military career, civilian career, starting multiple companies, and everything else I do has made it all possible.”
Never Too Late
Truex is a shining example of what one person can do if they make the most of their opportunities and aren’t afraid of a challenge. He wants other Soldiers who may be looking for a change to know that it’s never too late to do what is best for you.
“Outside of age restrictions it’s never too late to move. Of course, I would encourage anyone considering it to put a lot of thought into it and make sure it’s the right decision,” he said. “It’s not one to make lightly and I wouldn’t recommend doing it for the pay. Ask yourself why do you want to be an officer? We need great officers just like we need great NCOs.”
“Without trying to sound too much like an old Command Sergeant Major, the National Guard is what you make of it,” said Truex. “If you put the effort into it, the reward will be ten-fold. It may take years to see it, but it’s real. The benefits far outweigh the sacrifices.”