372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Story by 1st Sgt. Ryan Matson

Date: 04.01.2019
Posted: 04.01.2019 14:58
News ID: 316453
Sullivan News Camera Man

As they say, very few things in life are certain - death and taxes being foremost on that list.

Another safe bet is that wherever Sgt. David Graves can be found, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Sullivan is sure to be nearby.

For the past 10 years, the two broadcast journalists with the 372nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment “Ghostwriters” from Nashville, Tennessee, have literally been, inseparable.

“Sgt. 1st Class Sullivan has a twin named Patrick,” Graves said. “He and I are closer, in terms of brotherly tendencies, than he and his own twin. We’re essentially the same person, except he’s six inches taller.”

Sullivan echoed the sentiment.

“I would describe our relationship as a brotherhood,” Sullivan said. “He’s literally listed as my brother on Facebook.”

The journey that carried these two Soldiers through three deployments and 20 countries together began at the airport in Columbus, Ohio, back in 2009. The two were preparing for a deployment with the 367th MPAD to Southern Iraq in support of the 34th Infantry Division from 2009-10.

“He was Spc. Sullivan then, and he had some things going on,” Graves recalled. “He had been on a deployment. He squared me away. He took me under his wing, and he set me on the right path.”

Graves had just gotten back from basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then attended his advanced individual training to become a broadcast journalist in the Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, just like his mentor, Sullivan.

The two Soldiers were roommates leading up to and during the deployment, which set the precedent for the next 10 years to come. After the deployment to Iraq, Graves volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan and Qatar in late 2010 with the Armed Forces Network. Sullivan was not far behind, and joined him on that mission after another person dropped out. Finally, the two deployed to Kuwait for nine months from 2016-17.

“We’re great friends because we have a ton in common,” Sullivan said. “We have the same terrible sense of humor, ability to overcome less-than-ideal situations, and common interests outside of work. Plus, we’ve never been in a fight.”

That’s not to say the two have not endured tough times together. There have been countless long training days, demanding missions through brutal terrain, long lonely spans away from home, marriages, divorces and children. But through it all they have leaned on one another.

“We really balance off each other,” Graves said. “When I’m down, he always has a way to pick me back up. When I went through my divorce, he was right there. He’s always been somebody that will support me, but most of all he’s honest with me. He won’t just say what I want to hear. If I’m in the wrong, he gets on me. He keeps me on the straight and narrow and I try to do the same for him. We keep each other balanced.”

The journey has continued into the civilian world, too. Despite not having a journalism degree at the time, Graves was able to land a job as a photographer with local Nashville news station Fox 17.

“I wouldn’t have that job if it wasn’t for the Army,” Graves admitted. “Journalism is usually a degree-only field, but I was fortunate enough to get an interview. My boss said ‘You don’t have a degree – I don’t know if I can hire you.’ I said, ‘That’s understandable, but just take a look at my real-world experience.’ I showed him what I had done in the Army.”

Fate was on Graves’ side. His boss, Bob Shrader, knew Graves could do the job in the civilian world, mostly because Shrader had also done the job in the military. Shrader had served as a public affairs Soldier in the 1980’s and took a chance and brought the young Soldier on board.

And, as in every other chapter of Graves’ life, Sullivan was soon right beside him.

“I started working at Fox, and he was doing a job he really didn’t enjoy on the civilian side,” Graves said. “I said, hey man, we’ve got openings – you’ve got a degree in journalism, come work with me, you’ll love it.”

In 2016, just as Graves had joined Sullivan in their military journey, Sullivan joined Graves in their civilian careers. It was almost as if the two friends were destined to wind up together.

“It really is a double life,” Graves said.