Fresno State mechanic Danny Sexton marked his return from an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan by presenting an American flag to the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Tuesday.
The 10th-year mechanic is based full-time out of the Ag Operations office and presented the 3×5 flag to his co-workers as a thank-you for their support while on active duty with the U.S. Navy last year.
The E6 Petty Officer 1st Class returned to Fresno in late November after an eight-month stint at Bagram Air Base near Charikar, Afghanistan as an equipment operator after two months of training in Kentucky, New Jersey and Virginia.
“Fresno State was very supportive and held my job while I’m gone,” Sexton said. “I wanted to give one of the flags we flew back to the College to show how much I appreciated their support.”
In Afghanistan, he served on the logistics task force for transportation, and his main duties involved moving cargo and soldiers to other nearby destinations. Vehicles are also at the core of his Fresno State duties as he maintains campus vehicles ranging in all sizes.
“I enjoy both jobs because I’ve always liked working on equipment,” Sexton said. “They are complimentary since I can fix things on campus job and operate machinery in the military. I can also use the other position’s skills when necessary without missing a beat.”
While away last year, he still kept in close contact with his family and friends through Facebook, cell phones, texting and mail, and watched his granddaughter grow up on Skype. He also tracked the Bulldogs football team online and emailed with co-workers to keep updated on office news.
He first enlisted in the Navy in 1986 after high school to follow the career path of an uncle who had also served in the military. That move began a 20-plus year stint that began with five years of active duty in Europe and Florida. After a 10-year break, he re-enlisted in July 2001 and has been a naval reservist ever since.
He has served two other 10-month deployments in Iraq (2003) and in Kuwait (2009-10). In those stints, he served as a heavy equipment operator in the construction battalion, and operated all types of equipment used to build or dig camps, roadways, level & clear land for buildings, dig trenches, and roll out/pave roads.
Navy training will continue to be an active part of his life with his once-a-month weekends of service and a two-week stint during the year. Down the road, he hopes to deploy again before he retires from the Navy.
When he returned home the day before Thanksgiving, it made the holidays even more special for his wife Kathy, stepson and granddaughter Victoria.
“My wife hadn’t planned on me being there for Thanksgiving so it was pretty special when I texted her a couple days before,” Sexton said. “She was a little shocked and went into overdrive to get everything ready for an early return. On that afternoon, she was worried nobody would be there when we arrived because our dogs had gotten out and she ran into some traffic problems. But it all turned out fine, and she was there with plenty of time with some of our friends and family, including my 14-month old granddaughter.”