Daniel's wedding vows to Sierra

 Daniel and Sierra were to be married on May 24, 2008.  She never got to hear his wedding vows to her.  Here they are:


I love you.

You are my best friend.
Today I give myself to you in marriage, and swear before you and our friends and family, these things:

. I will laugh with you in times of joy, and comfort you in times of sorrow.

. I will share in your dreams, your hopes and your aspirations.

. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement.

. I will help you when you need it, and step aside when you do not.

. I will remain faithful to you for better or worse, in times of sickness and health.

. You are my best friend and I will love and respect you always. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort.

. I promise to cherish you, and to always hold you in highest regard I promise that all my life will be dedicated to the peace and harmony of our home.

These things I give to you today, and all the days of our life.


An English Assignment of Daniel's

Daniel A. Durgin

English 1B

Professor Taylor

14 July 2000

Reminiscent of the Rain

            Before we knew it, the clouds let loose and heavy rain began to try and beat us into submission.  We quickly dug into the cliff side in order to conceal ourselves from the weather and any onlookers below.  The ground was loose shale, and it only had to be cut into five to six feet before a depression was created large enough to conceal the three Marines and myself.  We had the tent, radio, night vision, Doppler unit, and motion detectors unloaded, erected, and operating in less than an hour.  It was two in the morning, and the truck that delivered us would not be back for twenty-four hours.  We watched in longing as the matte-black pick-up drove off into the dark night. Within minutes all that remained was the faint red glow of the truck’s taillights and an alert notice on the Doppler unit.  All four of us quickly crawled underneath the tent in a vain attempt to shelter ourselves from the stinging rain.  After struggling in the darkness, each man sat aside the other and attempted to be content with the discomfort inherent in this awkward arrangement.  Shale had been thrown helter-skelter across the top of the tent; primarily to conceal our location and secondly to prevent the wind from wiping our shelter like a sail.   If anyone were to walk upon our location, all they would see would be a hillside with eight camouflaged legs growing out of it.  Our legs paid the price, so that our bodies and surveillance equipment could be spared the torment of the rain and wind.  We all sat there motionless, in complete silence, and looking off into the inky blackness that was Mexico – as were our orders. 

            In hours, which seemed like days, the rain letup and the sun began to rise; almost simultaneously the night vision began to wail.  The Sergeant grunted, rolled over, and flipped the unit off.  Our position on the hillside directly concealed the sunrise, but we where able to watch its effect as the valley floor came alive with streaks of light.  The shrubs grew shadows a mile long, stretching out like the fingers of a blind man reading the valley floor like Braille.  Trees began to appear, then small bodies of water, then finally a few goats and cattle became visible in the small ranches that were thrown throughout the lowland.

            We sat there, cold, wet, and with our minds foraging for thought.  Within hours after the sunrise the two Privates, who lay between the Sergeant and myself, were asleep.  They looked like two brothers sleeping upon each other on a long family car trip.  The Sergeant monitored the radio and I the Doppler Unit.  Neither job required any effort, only alert ears, so we both reached into our field packs as quietly as possible.  He retrieved a Hustler and a Snickers, I a copy of a book I hadn’t read since I was a child; at that instant I wished we could trade, however I didn’t think this 25O pound Samoan would be too receptive to “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

            The book absorbed the humidity like a sponge, and to such a degree that I was able to press drops of water from its pages.  As I read, the pages peeled off of the binding like the skin of an onion. Chapter one began like all beginnings – with a description.  “On February 14, 1815, the watchtower at Marseilles signaled the arrival of the three-masted Pharaon, coming from Smyrna, Trieste and Naples.”  As I read, my mind left Dantès world and began to reminisce back to my childhood.

            1985 was the wettest year the town of Grass Valley had ever seen.  That day in February, I was eleven years old and this historical storm was hammering the windows of my tutor’s house.  I was a rather slow reader, and my mother and teacher feared it might inhibit me from succeeding in the next grade.  Sue, my tutor, believed that the only way to read was to “practice, practice, practice.”  We would sit there together for forty-five minutes a day.  I frustrated, she smiling gleefully as I struggled through the daunting task of reading the biggest book I’d ever seen.  It was four hundred and fifty pages; I hadn’t read that many pages in my life.  Of all the books to pick, she chooses the one with words like “Signoti Francesi,” “Bonapartist’s,” and “Bartoloneo Cavalcanti.”  Each page took me twenty minutes to struggle through and each page was more intimidating than the last.  I sounded out a word, “Bone-pert-est,” and then looked to her face.  Her gleeful expression changed to dismay and then back to glee again – ‘god that was annoying.’  I tried it again, “bona-pert-ist,” with the same response.  Over and again, “Bonapartist,” as I looked up from the page, glee remained glee, and I continued.  It took me three days to read the first chapter.  When I finished, she made me read chapter one, again.  My second attempt only took two days; I was improving.  The third time took forty minutes, and so I began the second chapter.

            I started the sixth grade that September, having spent the summer with my tutor reading chapter after chapter.  School came too early and I was unable to finish Dantès avenging tale.  However, that first week we began reading aloud from some book whose title I’ve long forgotten.  As my turn to read aloud approached, anxiety filled my stomach; too much anxiety for someone of my age.  The children seated in front of me read their chosen passage.  My turn was upon me, and I began.  I stuttered and stammered a little, as was expected of all the children.  When I finished no one laughed, no one looked, and I was just a regular sixth grader.

            The wet reality of my suffering on that hillside brought me back from my reflection.  As dusk approached, the temperature dropped close to freezing.  Soon, the rain began again, and promptly turned to hail, then to sleet.  I was struggling to burn through the last few pages before complete darkness descended.  The Sergeant was asleep, and the two Privates were playing spades on top of the radio.  It had been quiet throughout the day.  The rain tends to keep the smugglers and coyotes in the bars of Palomas.  As I read, the characters consumed by Dantès vengeance were collapsing in melancholy and despair.  I desperately struggled to peel away the remaining pages.

Darkness descended.  The Privates scanned the horizon with the night vision goggles.  The Sergeant confirmed a radio check.  I sat there in the faint green incandescent light of the Doppler holding page four hundred and forty-one in my hand. The remains of the day pilled neatly in a mound of pulp at my feet along with the Sergeant’s Hustler.  Again my mind retreated.  Just ten short years ago this book allowed me to escape the humiliation of being held back in the fifth grade.  Now it allows me to escape the harsh brutality of freezing rain and wind.  The Doppler chirps and minutes later the red headlights of the truck could be seen climbing the mountain.  The Sergeant and I climb outside of the tent, and the Privates started breaking down the equipment.  The truck arrived promptly, and with haste the equipment was loaded.  In the warm white light of the cab I quickly complete the book started ten years ago. In the peace of a few minutes, I found that “all human wisdom was contained in these two words: wait and hope.”


Works Cited

Dumas, Alexandre. The Count of Monte Cristo.  New York: Bantam Books. 1979.

"Courage" from FaceBook Message posts

Elsie Boozel Durgin                    February 6, 2013    from Face Book Message

Emily is in the 5th grade and she is doing a speech on 'courage'. She selected her Uncle Dan as her example of courage. Would each one of you tell her something that comes to your mind when you think of Dan and courage? Thank you so much!


Adrian Pena

Daniel was one of personal role models. I looked up to him when I was out is suggestions in order to rejuvenate my own sense of courage. He would probe me for questions, always trying to get to the root of what was wrong with me. I wear my emotions on my face and he made me aware of that. One day, in the branch medical clinic on Al Asad Air Station in Iraq, I had come in for duty and Daniel quickly asked me how many meals I had eaten, to which I replied,"5 and two M.R.E's. He laughed out loud uncontrollably. I laughed with him. I am not a fat man, but I am very athletic and I tend to burn 4000 calories a day. Ok, I was having a moment of nostalgia. Now for the story. Daniel finally was able to go outside the wire with me in my convoy one day! I was super excited to find out that he was going go be with me. We were guiding armored trucks and some military dignitaries from Al Asad to TQ. The trip was roughly 80 miles give or take. I remember thinking, I really hope that it isn't exciting. I always hoped it wasn't exciting so I wouldn't catch the adrenaline bug and constantly search out ways to feel Alive when I got home and I new Daniel was a super laid back doc and he loved to chill. However, that day we had the Army fire upon our convoy!!!! As we approached the mid-check point, we parked as we routinely did when we went on our nightly missions. During the 20 minute pause in our adventure, we were somehow mistaken for enemy or suspicious forces. The Army began to fire warning shots above our vehicles in an attempt to warn us that we were to evacuate the area. Daniel quickly grabbed my vest and told me to get ready, usually I would have been ready, but at the moment I was clutching on to a fork from my M.R.E bag. Chicken noodle was the only thing on my mind at the moment. Daniel looked down at my M.R.E. And started laughing uncontrollably...chuckling even!

He was always composed of razor sharp nerves.

Whenever Daniel observed a threat his first instinct was to act based on his intellect and training. Daniel had the courage to check on his subordinates first! He is my hero for that. That night in the midst of the Army snafu, my readiness, instilled by our beloved Daniel, was indeed needed. A member of my platoon was injured during a routine inspection of a truck and because of the mental checklist that Daniel made me recite I was able to treat the patient with ease.


Sammy Gaborni

That was a tough homework . . .

What came to mind was HM1 Daniel Durgin's leadership and professionalism.

Adrian Pena:
Daniel had the courage to check on his subordinates first!

I got stuck and could not think of other things to add to Adrian's list and then I remembered this letter sent the day after the funeral (not sure if I have shared) and it somehow tells who's Dan, the HM1 and a dear friend.


Last Thursday was certainly a day of contrasts. Gladness for the chance to see so many of you, and sadness that it came at the expense of our shipmate. Life really doesn't seem fair when you consider that he was perhaps the most accomplished one among us. But then, life isn't fair. Or perhaps we go when we've given enough. He certainly did. I know of few others who've done as much with their many years as he did with only thirty-three. There were plenty of great things said about Daniel, and all of them were true. But the thing that I’ll remember him for was the great dignity that he had. No matter what he was doing, you knew that this was a man of substance. And somehow, you wanted to be like him. HM1 Durgin could even just sit with dignity.

I think President Kennedy's words are a fitting testament to the life of HM1 Daniel A Durgin: “One man can make a difference. And every man should try.”


The Navy's Core Values, honor, courage & commitment.

Honor In Word And Deed

Honor has always implied integrity, honesty and fairness. An honorable person would never steal, lie, or do less than their best. Behaving honorably in the Navy means putting out honest effort, being willing to learn, treating others with respect, taking responsibility for one's actions and handling oneself in an ethical manner at all times. Being honorable means being truthful and fulfilling one's duties not out of necessity but out of personal pride and a true sense of right and wrong.

The Moral Fortitude Of Courage

Courage is not simply being brave in extreme circumstances. Courage means having the personal and moral fortitude to do what is right, even when it is difficult. As a Navy service man or woman, courage refers to defending American citizens, soil and property at any cost. It also refers to performing whatever tasks are required to support Navy missions and objectives. Courage also means handling military property with integrity and honesty, despite temptations to do otherwise. Courage means staying the course, unswayed by fear, pain or temptation, ensuring that jobs are performed as they were meant to be.


Commitments are obligations and loyalties. To Navy service men and women, commitment refers to their willingness to obey orders, their dedication to the welfare and well-being of American citizens and their loyalty to performing their duties in the best way possible. Commitment also encompasses a vow to maintain the integrity and respectability of the Navy by showing respect to all persons, regardless of religion, race or gender. The Navy requires a commitment to personal improvement, good moral character and technical expertise in the performance of one's duties.


Aaron Doc Ramirez

What more can be said that hasn't already about our brother? His laughter and smile was as infectious to those around him as was any of the things he read about in those monster microbiology books he was always reading. He was always striving to learn, do more, be better...and in doing so made others want to do the same. He lead by example always not for any other reason than it was genuine and sincere. Yes, he had strength and calm about him that was natural as Adrian pointed out...no matter how bad the day was he would always make sure you were alright. I would be remiss if I left out the fact that he had a taste for the finer wines...Sammy, you guys shared that one.