FORWARD OPERATING BASE LIGHTNING, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LIGHTNING, Afghanistan – For most of the soldiers working at the gate at Forward Operating Base Lightning, Afghanistan on Thu 27, it seemed to be just another routine day. Routine for everyone except Spc. Dany Gromov, a rifleman with 1st Platoon, Dog Company of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, who sees each day as being one step closer to turning his dream into reality.
Each day is an opportunity for Gromov because if it had not been for a chance inter-continental move and inspiration from one of his parents, his life would have been very different and far from what he wants it to be like someday.
Gromov is from a town near the Russian capital city of Moscow and laughs when he tells people he is from Moscow because doesn’t he doesn’t believe anyone has ever heard of his hometown.
“I tell everyone I’m from Moscow, since nobody knows the original city I’m from, which is Puschino, about 30 miles from Moscow,” said Gromov.
Gromov came to the United States with his grandmother in 2008. He was 14 years old when he had to learn a whole new way of life and related some of the cultural differences he experienced.
“It was shocking because in Russia, there are mostly Caucasians. So when I came to the airport, there were so many kinds of people,” said Gromov.. “I have never seen so many different kinds of people.”
The variety of people was only the first difference he noticed but it was the way Americans interacted with each other that also had an effect on him.
“When I first went outside of my grandfather’s house for a walk, people were saying hello to me and I saw them saying hello to each other, In Russia, people don’t really talk to each other on the street.”
School was the first place where he saw the nearly endless possibilities he had for what he wanted to do with his life. He described the Russian school system as a limited, one- size, fits-all program.
“In America, the variety of classes you can take and being able to study whatever subject you want was great. You could take a class on fixing cars, or botany or math if you want to. In Russia, it’s a standard program and there is nothing you can do if you don’t like it.”
Gromov also described how physical violence among the students is a frequent part of the Russian high school student culture, something which he had to change.
“In Russian high schools, there are a lot of bullies, and people fight a lot. When I first came to the United States, I got in trouble after I started a fight with someone, and it was pretty embarrassing because nobody else was really starting anything, so it was a very good lesson.”
Eventually, his school days came to an end and the question of what he wanted to do for a living had to be answered. The answer to that question was luckily, close at hand since his father is currently serving in the United States Air Force.
“The biggest part of my decision came from my father who always encouraged me, He would show me videos of the different career fields on the Internet.”
It was a video of some U.S. Army Infantry soldiers in action that really caught his eye,, and it was then that he decided he wanted to be a soldier.
“There were these guys, with their uniforms and their shades with their weapons looking really cool, so as I went through the rest of school, I thought about it and decided I really wanted to join the Army.”
Gromov finished school and enlisted in the Army. After completing his training, he eventually was assigned to his current unit. His self-described ambitiousness and drive quickly caught the eye of his squad leader, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin Gravett, who described his personality.
“He’s explosive, he’s got a really aggressive, take--charge kind of personality,” said Gravett. “He’s also very kind, very friendly and works very well with others. He’s one of my best soldiers.”
These same personality traits, along with his determination are what Gromov is counting on to achieve his eventual goal for his Army career, which is to become a member of the Army’s Special Forces. He is quick to point out soldiers will only get out of their careers what they put into them.
“If you don’t do anything in the Army and you just go with the flow, you’re not going to get much out of it,” said Gromov. “You actually have to strive, work hard and be disciplined in order to get somewhere.”
Gromov also sees the nearly endless number of career choices available to soldiers in the Army which he eagerly shares with soldiers who think they have no options.
“The Army has an insane number of opportunities as long as you’re squared away and you do what you’re supposed to do. You can go with Special Forces, or the Army Rangers, or even become a journalist,” said Gromov.
His eagerness to push himself, to know more and to continuously develop himself is also a trait that has been noticed and appreciated by his supervisor, Gravett.
“He’s amazing, he’s like a sponge, wanting to learn more and more,” said Gravett, “He not only wants to know how to do something, he wants to know how to do it well and once he knows it well, he wants to do it perfectly”
Gravett definitely sees Gromov achieving his goal and thinks he will be an asset to any unit or team that gets him. Gravett also knows that even though there are obstacles in Gromov’s path, such as needing to improve his score on the General Technical portion of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, he will do whatever it takes to overcome them.
“I think he would be a great asset to the Special Forces and I highly encourage him to go for it,” said Gravett. . “He’s working on improving his GT score and will not allow anyone to tell him he can’t do something.”
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This work, Spartan soldier serves in pursuit of his dream, by SGT Javier Amador, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.