Jack-of-all-trades puts skills to good use in Corps
2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story by Sgt. Juan Vara

AL ASAD, Iraq (Aug. 17, 2005) -- “One thing I always wanted to do was be a Marine,” said Sgt. Daniel R. Navrestad. “I said ‘If I’m going to do it, now is the time to do it. I’m 20 and I need to get it done before I get too old.’”

In August 2002, the Galesville, Wis., native enlisted in the Marine Corps to realize a childhood dream. He is now supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom as the radio chief of Marine Wing Support Group 27.

His job is to troubleshoot, repair and maintain the radios used to monitor convoys and other personnel outside the base’s perimeter, but since his arrival in February, he’s gone above and beyond his duties.

Navrestad helped the Marines in the unit’s communications and data department make a safer working environment for everyone in the group headquarters by replacing and rerouting more than 120 computer and telephone lines in the building. He also built wooden desks and walls in the group’s combined operations center and hung plasma screens and projectors from the ceiling to help those working there accomplish their mission more efficiently.

To make life easier for those in the combined operations center, and ultimately for those outside “the wire,” he added more radios to monitor all the networks under the group’s responsibility.

“I don’t mind being deployed,” he said. “Whether it is Iraq or anywhere else it’s all a different experience.”

A 2000 graduate of Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School, Navrestad had several jobs before joining the Corps. He was a mechanic, construction worker and electrician and did masonry and lawn care before setting foot at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.

“I always wanted to be in the military and one of the biggest reasons for that is that my dad was a Marine,” he said. “He didn’t want me to join, he said I wasn’t going to like it, but now he’s very proud of me.”

And his father has plenty of reasons to be proud. Navrestad is what the Marine Corps knows as a ‘fast-tracker.’ He left basic training as a private first class and was promoted to lance corporal two weeks after reporting to his first duty station, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, in Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.

In January 2004–17 months after enlisting–he was promoted to corporal. A year later he was promoted to his current rank. Navrestad went from private to sergeant in less than three years. Not bad for someone who enlisted hoping to be an electrician and ended as a field radio operator.

A jack-of-all-trades, Navrestad is good with his hands. Not only is he a skilled carpenter, he’s also a Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) instructor. When he’s not deployed he finds time to train others who want to improve their close combat fighting capabilities.

“That’s something I can give back to the Marine Corps while I’m still in,” he said of his martial arts instruction. “Marines love MCMAP.”

Navrestad plans on being a Marine for years to come. “I put my re-enlistment package in and I’m re-enlisting in October,” he said.

Both of his grandfathers served in the Army in the communications field, his father is a Marine veteran who worked on ejection seats and his brother and sister are in the Army. His brother, in the Army since 1997, is a heavy equipment operator and his sister, who joined in July 2002, is a food service specialist.

“My grandfather–my dad’s dad–died while I was stationed in Japan,” he said. “When I read his obituary I found out he was a radio operator in World War II. I’m carrying out a tradition I didn’t even know about.”