News: Fragile daughter changes soldier’s life
Story by Spc. James Wilton
CAMP SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Two warriors square off on the mat, surrounded by a noisy crowd eagerly anticipating the action. This is the normal atmosphere of an Army combatives competition, a place where some feel at home but none more than 1st Sgt. Daniel Perry. The former Marine is the combatives instructor and company first sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 223rd Regiment Regional Training Institute, California Army National Guard.
Combatives was the final event at the Best Warrior Competition held at Camp San Luis Obispo, Calif., Sept. 13. Though a once in a lifetime event for many of the soldiers involved, this was just another day for Perry, who has worked for the RTI since 2001.
Perry has been involved in the world of mixed martial arts from a young age, including wrestling and kickboxing as a teenager and working as a close combat trainer in the Marine Corps. Combat is a part of his life but with the birth of his daughter, a change began to take shape. She was born in 2001 with a genetic abnormality and needs constant medical care. The rough and tumble former Marine was now faced with a medically fragile daughter and that changed his life, said Perry. His daughter taught him a new kind of strength.
“The resiliency and the wiliness to overcome any obstacle in order to live, my daughter had showed me true strength,” said Perry. “She humbled me, she truly humbled me.”
Beyond the lessons he learned from his daughter, Perry also found inspiration from watching her interact with the medical professionals.
“Being in the hospital so many times, I got to see the professionalism and the compassion of those in the medical field,” said Perry. “It was very inspiring not only for me but for my family as well. The care that they gave to my daughter and the way they showed me to care for her inspired me to start moving into a new avenue in life.”
Perry began studying pre-med, and along the way, heard about the physician’s assistant program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He applied and was accepted this year into one of the 12 slots allocated for the National Guard. The two-year program means that he would have to be away from his family but the experience and knowledge he would gain was well worth the sacrifice, he said.
Even at this turning point in his life Perry does not forget where he has been and the passion he has for combatives still sings out when he talks about the subject.
“The defining characteristic of a warrior is the willingness to close with an enemy,” said Perry. “And how do I evaluate that, how do I test that? Well one way is to get on this mat, knowing that the other person on the other side of the mat is coming to take them out.”
As the first sergeant of Task Force Warrior, a training element which prepares National Guard units from around the country for deployments overseas, Perry shows the same passion he has for combatives when he oversees his soldiers at the task force.
“He’s an amazing person, I’m learning a lot just working with him,” said Spc. Jasmine Singleton, a documentation clerk at Task Force Warrior. “It seems like he really cares about the soldiers and looking out for them.”
Perry demonstrates the values and character of a well-rounded soldier in his roles as a father, leader and instructor.