Sailor, Army reservist Daniel Way touched by Veteran’s Day Parade grand marshal honor
PHOENIX — In December of 1987, Daniel Way made a decision that would change his life forever.
“I decided to join the military and I chose the Navy because it seemed like it had more opportunities,” Way said.
He served as an electronics technician on a Navy frigate and spent a lot of time overseas. “We had many, many, many deployments,” he recalled.
One of the most rewarding experiences Way had in the service, however, was meeting his future wife, Brenda.
“We were both enlisted at the time,” he said. “Once I realized that we couldn’t be together if I was on active duty and she was, then I decided that I was going to get out and so we became a couple at that point.”
The two were married and moved to Arizona. While Brenda pursued a career as a naval officer, Way joined the Arizona National Guard Reserves.
As the couple settled down, the largest attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor happened: Sept. 11.
America went to war and soon after, so did Way. He recounted the call he received from his superior at the National Guard on his wife’s birthday.
“The guy that called me and said, ‘You need to pull over if you’re driving’ and you’re flooded with all these emotions because you’re training once a month and you’re expecting to go in the back of your mind but you don’t really expect it to happen,” he said.
Three days later, Way said goodbye to his family and left for Iraq.
“We were a transportation unit and we drove bulk fuel. So we had 75,000 gallons of whatever type of fuel in tankers that we drove,” he said.
Throughout the last decade, Way has served the United States in a number of operations, including Iraqi Freedom. He saw combat, aided troops, and brought every member of his platoon back home when their deployment was over.
Way’s wife, Brenda, nominated him to be one of this year’s grand marshals in the Veteran’s Day Parade.
“It was natural for me to want to submit him,” she said. “He didn’t know I did, so I didn’t tell him until he was nominated.”
She said her husband is a true war hero and while Way humbly disagreed, he said he’s never been more honored in his life.
“There is a lot of pride and there is a lot of humility and humbleness when I (think) about it,” he said.
“To represent all the people that I can would be … it’s just … wow. I don’t know what else to say, it’s kind of hard to talk about.”