At 8 years old, Danielle Gorie watched with wide eyes as Army National Guard Soldiers rolled into her Hurricane Andrew-ravaged town near Miami. They were there to hand out food and supplies, as well as protect the community from looting.
“It left an imprint on me,” she says about those difficult days in ’92.
Fast-forward three years and we arrive at the next important event to shape the decisions young Gorie would make for her own future. Her Naval pilot brother, Dominic, who was 20+ years her senior, got a call from NASA informing him that he was selected to be an astronaut candidate. Throughout middle school and high school, she looked on as her brother piloted several Space Shuttle missions.
By the end of her junior year, Gorie knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“I had this superstar older brother, and I wanted to make my dad proud, too,” she says. “I enlisted in the National Guard on July 31, 2001. I just had to wait until I turned 18 to do my training.”
Of course, while she was waiting, four hijacked airliners crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pa.
“I watched the Twin Towers on television and just thought, ‘Wow.’”
Yet the events unfolding around her did not derail Gorie’s drive and determination: She was going to make her own mark by serving her community and her country in the Guard.
And that’s exactly what she’s done throughout her 12-year military career. Only when you’re motivated by such drive and determination, the word “serving” needs to be followed by “above and beyond.”
After Basic Combat Training, she completed Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as a 42A Human Resource Specialist and deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 with a Military Police unit out of Florida. But just a few days after their arrival, they lost several Soldiers in a vehicle accident. So Gorie volunteered for regular shifts driving one of the MP Humvees that patrolled Kabul. She also volunteered a couple of times each week to cover the night shift in one of the compound’s guard towers.
“I just felt like I was serving more of a purpose that way.”
Back in the States
Eight years later, Gorie – now Staff Sergeant Gorie – is still volunteering.
After returning to the States, she sought full-time Guard employment, first as a Recruiter Assistant and later as a Recruiter. Her outstanding work earned her a promotion in 2011 to become the Advertising and Marketing Non-Commissioned Officer (MNCO) for the Recruiting and Retention Battalion for the State of Florida.
MNCO duties can be exhaustive, from coordinating events to managing ad campaigns and budgets to running social media properties and more. But when SSG Gorie’s battalion commander sent out a special request via email this past spring, she was the only one who answered the call.
First Ever in Florida
The National Guard was first authorized drill instructor specialties back in 2008, yet no female Soldiers in Florida had ever accepted the grueling challenge of becoming a Drill Sergeant. Until now, that is.
SSG Gorie packed her bags in April and headed to 9 weeks of drill instructor training at Fort Jackson, S.C., with 88 other candidates from across the Nation.
“It was like Basic Training all over again. You get treated like a private, despite your current rank. It teaches you how to be a Drill Sergeant.”
She arrived on a Wednesday, and at 3 a.m. on Thursday reported for an Army Physical Fitness Test – the first of many training activities that would narrow the field down to a final graduating class of 60.
“Many couldn’t pass and went home on the first day.”
After that, SSG Gorie was up at 4:15 every morning and down at formation at 5 a.m. for 90 minutes of physical training, followed by a shower and breakfast. Either classroom or field training filled the rest of the day’s official learning activities until dinner chow, but the day was in no way over.
“After dinner is when you studied MOIs (Memorandum of Instruction). Each week you had to memorize several MOIs – some weeks there were eight of them. And then they would draw a card for one MOI and you’d have to pitch it verbatim. If you didn’t make it, you had to do it again at 4 a.m. the next day. If you failed a second time, you went home. It was the biggest disqualifier for the class.”
She had to re-pitch twice, but did so successfully and graduated on her 30th birthday in June.
Gorie now reports one weekend a month as Drill Sergeant for Florida’s Recruit Sustainment Program, which prepares recruits for Basic Combat Training in the months before they are scheduled to go. They learn basic Soldiering skills, physical training, map skills, and more.
“It makes Basic a lot easier and they have an absolute edge. Most get ID’d as squad leaders.”
Another First for the Future?
So, does SSG Gorie’s new role fulfill her drive and determination to make her mark in the Guard?
Yes – and no.
“I want to be Sergeant Major one day. We’ve never had a female Sergeant Major in our battalion, so I’m setting my sights toward that next.”
If you want to make your mark in the Guard like SSG Gorie, visit the Army National Guard jobs board and contact a Recruiter today.