Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Daniel Acker. Daniel served in the Cold War.
Since the age of five, Daniel knew it was his destiny to join the military. As a child growing up during World War II, he idolized many of the soldiers he saw returning home. His admiration for their service would spark his desire to serve in the armed forces.
In September 1968, when he was 19, Daniel enlisted in the Army and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for boot camp. Daniel admits that although he always envisioned himself as a soldier, boot camp took him by surprise.
“It was a real shock, when I first got off the bus at basic training, had my head shaved,” Daniel said in an interview for the Veterans History Project. “And there was the drill sergeant standing there, he was just a statue of physical fitness, and he just scared the heck out of you.”
Initially Daniel received deployment orders for Vietnam; however, those orders were overwritten, and he was sent to Fort Leonard as a holdover. In March 1969, he received deployment orders for Korea where he served with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion in the DMZ on the 38th parallel. Acker describes his time in Korea as a surreal experience.
“We suddenly grew up, so to speak,” Daniel said. “We’re 19 years old, and we suddenly see our own mortality, and that was something that I was – that I had to deal with. So, yeah, Korea was not a good experience.”
Throughout his 24 years of military service, Daniel received numerous recognitions. He was awarded the Korean Expeditionary Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal 5th Award and the Good Conduct Medal 6th award. Daniel was also inducted into the Sergeant Morales Club Level three in October 1981.
While Daniel is proud of his entire military service, he considers his years as a drill sergeant to be the most fulfilling.
“I enjoyed teaching,” Daniel said. “It was very rewarding to take young men and take them through 12 weeks of rigorous day and night training through all kinds of weather and watch them be shaped.”
Daniel retired as a First Sergeant on October 1, 1988. After his retirement, Daniel moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee, where he worked as a foreman for Sunbeam Bakery. He has since moved back to his hometown of Evansville, Indiana, where he is an active member of the VFW post 1114.
Thank you for your service, Daniel!
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/
Graphic created by Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a graphic communication major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in graphic design and visual communications.