PHOENIX — “I was a rebellious teenager. The military gave me an opportunity to go on a different path.”
That’s how retired Army Master Sgt. Jay Darby of Goodyear began his military career. The veteran wouldn’t specify how he was rebelling; he just said it was the ’70s.
He found his niche in the Army. Over 32 years, Darby’s been a medic, infantryman and instructor. He participated in Operation Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991 and Operation Enduring Freedom. He also participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Darby – who’s been with the Arizona Department of Corrections for 18 years – said he was honored to hear he’s a grand marshal in this year’s Phoenix Veterans Day Parade.
“I was actually … shocked. I had no idea,” he said. “It’s an honor and a privilege.”
Speaking of honors, Darby’s got enough to fill a box: achievement medals, good conduct medals, combat action and expert infantryman’s badges and even a Legion of Merit and meritorious-service medal.
Darby knows he’s got a lot to live up to, being a grand marshal and he won’t let anyone down.
“It’s a military thing for me, presenting the image, being correct,” he said. “Representing in the finest military tradition and standard.”
The retired master sergeant won’t talk about the things he saw as a medic and infantryman. And yet, he has no regrets about serving and would recommend the armed services in a heartbeat to anyone.
“The benefits … are phenomenal. The educational benefits … the leadership that you can fall into,” he said. “I promoted to sergeant when I was nineteen … I was the youngest sergeant in my company at Fort Riley.
“You can take whatever the military gives you … and you can thrive. They will give you as much as you can handle. You can excel as fast as you want to excel. It teaches you discipline; it teaches you what you can and cannot do.”
KTAR will honor each grand marshal of the upcoming Veterans Day parade during our Profiles in Courage series.
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