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A hairdresser’s homecoming

Family and friends greet sailor upon her return home

Colonie Central High School graduate Danielle Martinez went from local hairdresser to enrolling in the Navy.

Colonie Central High School graduate Danielle Martinez went from local hairdresser to enrolling in the Navy. Photo by Zan Strumfeld.

— Only a short time into hairdressing, though, she began working out at Albany’s LA Boxing, building muscle. In February 2012, she headed to Chicago for three months of intensive training at boot camp. Although her family had very little communication with her over that period of time, they learned that Danielle was working above and beyond her requirements.

“We talked to the commander and we asked about Danielle and he said she was setting the standard. (He said) Danielle loves boot camp, everybody’s trying to keep up with her,” Chris said.

The proud parents went to Chicago in May to see her graduate, but had to say goodbye as she was stationed in San Diego aboard the USS Rushmore. She was deployed to the Middle East in September.

One of Danielle’s first experiences was a relief mission, bringing medicine and supplies to soldiers overseas. From there, she spent eight months out at sea on different missions, sometimes going two months without seeing land.

“It wasn’t easy over the last eight months. It was very stressful,” Joyce said. “There were times when I thought she was going to break. I had to give her support, talk to her. Say, ‘Stay strong.’ It was rough.”

Having a strong support system back home and overseas helped both Danielle and her family over the past year.

“Support is very important. If it wasn’t for my family and friends, I don’t know how I would do this,” Joyce said.

That support continued through the local schools as well. This past winter, Lisha Kill Middle School, where Danielle once attended, adopted the USS Rushmore. Eric Obermayer, social studies teacher and the Martinez’s neighbor, decided to adopt the ship by having his students write holiday letters to all the sailors. Over just one week, 758 cards were written and sent out to the USS Rushmore, along with some care packages. Many students and their families wrote more than one card.

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