MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (WTRF) – Danielle Harmon said her life was always meant to be about service. 

Her way to fulfill that mission, was 24-years in the Air Force. 

Those years were spent around the world, simultaneously raising a family and serving, during a time when the military was changing after some major moments in our country’s history.

It just was always something that I knew I wanted to do. I wanted to serve.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Inspired by her family, there wasn’t much doubt where Danielle Harmon would end up. 

My two great-uncles and my Dad were in the Air Force. My two great uncles in the Army Air Corps.

One was a ball turret gunner in B-17s over Europe. He thankfully came home. Many of the ball turret gunners didn’t. They were sort of targets. The other one helped build our nuclear program.

My dad was an Air Force firefighter who helped with Operation Baby Lift in Vietnam.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Harmon was in the Marine Corps Junior ROTC in high school, a “great entryway into the world of the military” as she described it. Due to that experience, at the end of basic training at Lackland Airforce Base she graduated as an E3, two ranks higher than her classmates.

Originally Harmon was chosen for armed forces radio and television, but lack of space in the program meant a change in career path for her. 

As an intelligence analyst there were lots of different things that I did and none of it I can really talk much about.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Harmon had top secret security clearance, meaning that much of her work still remains a secret. 

However, she will tell you she worked long shifts all over the world; including in Japan, England, Hawaii some time in Germany and South Korea and eventually back in the United States. Harmon calls herself lucky, saying she had some “great assignments”.

Everything that I did affected combat operations in one way or another. Everything that I did had an effect on whether or not we kept the United States safe and sometimes more importantly our boots on the ground after 9/11 safe.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

9/11 changed the lives of all Americans, especially those of service members. 

I was at work that day. The first reports we got were that a plane had run into the Twin Towers. Everyone said ‘oh my gosh the pilot must of had a medical emergency’. ‘No one would intentionally fly a plane into the World Trade Center’.

Then it rolled over into the Pentagon.

Then we watched the second plane hit the towers. We knew immediately that this was organized and an intentional attack and we kicked into gear doing the things that we do.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Harmon was stationed in England during the attack. She said the feeling of uncertainty that swept the country also rippled through the military. 

At that point we didn’t know, my ex-husband and I didn’t know, if we were going to be deployed. So, at one point we considered bringing our kids back home to leave them with my parents until we knew what was going on.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

A cousin of Harmon’s, who was a firefighter with the FDNY, was killed on 9/11 responding to the towers. She said at that time she thought about getting out, but her family kept her going.

My family looked at me and said ‘absolutely not, you have to stay in and find the jackasses that did this’.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Post 9/11 Harmon said she did volunteer to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, but she was not chosen by the Air Force.

I did volunteer. I’d get halfway through to the point of where I was leaving for combat training and they’d cancel the deployment. After three or four times of that happening I decided I’d better listen and not go.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

There were other changes for the military, and for her. Bases were shut down to mission-essential personnel and enlisted personnel were not permitted to wear their uniforms off base. However, Harmon said where she was stationed in North Yorkshire, people were kind to the servicemembers.

She also was enlisted during other tragedies and had to watch from afar, like the Oklahoma City bombings and the USS Cole bombing.

Harmon said the nature of her job was very “heavy” since everything she did impacted combat operations.

After 24-years, Harmon said she knew it was time to retire, so she held the ceremony in a place that was very special to her, the Women in Military Service for America Museum. 

We just assume that veterans are men. That’s not the right answer. That’s not the right answer at all. Women in the military go through an awful lot. It’s combat and whatever else and women are making strides and doing the things that everybody always said they couldn’t do.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Harmon rose to the rank of Master Sergeant and said she wouldn’t trade those years in the Air Force for anything. 

Although it wasn’t part of her duties, Harmon said one of her favorite times in the Air Force was volunteering with Honor Flight and being able to show veterans around the monuments in Washington D.C.

It was my choice to stay for 24-years and I loved it. I loved every minute. My life has been and always will be about service in one way or another.

Danielle Harmon, Veteran

Harmon has two children who she raised while moving across the world in the Air Force. Her daughter was born in England and her son was born in Texas.

After the Air Force, she went back to college and moved to Colorado Springs.

Eventually, she and her fiancé came back to the area and settled in Moundsville.