Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 24, 2012

Military profile: father and sons

PARKER COUNTY — Danny Carnley grew up with military around him. His biological father, Melvin Carnley, served in the U.S. Army and Marine reserves, stationed in Germany and Korea, while his stepdad served during World War II as a third class petty officer.

“When I was 6 or 7, my uncle went into the Navy and I fell in love with their uniforms,” Carnley said.

With the draft looming, he enlisted in the Navy in 1967, at the age of 17. A year later, Carnley’s parents got his draft notice while he was in basic training.

“I went to school in Weatherford, and transferred to Peaster in the ninth grade, but I never really liked school anyway,” he said.

Carnley served on three ships — USS California, USS Shasta and USS Enterprise, from 1967 to 1977, and spent the next 14 years in the Army National Guard.

During his years with the Navy, Carnley also served in the Vietnam War, a memory he considers to be proud and painful.

“I’m a Vietnam vet and I’m proud of it, but the thing about Vietnam was that people from our own country didn’t respect us and it was a sad thing for military people,” he said. “If you didn’t have any family when you got back, then the heck with you. Because no one else was going to give you any support.”

His time in the Navy helped launch the military careers for his two own sons, Les and Royce.

“To hear my dad talking about the USS Enterprise... Star Trek was a very popular show when we were growing up, and I used to imagine that my dad was on that spaceship. It was the coolest thing in the world,” Les Carnley said. “I got my first real first-hand experience one weekend when I got to go and ride on the tanks and hang out with some of the guys. I was 15 or 16 at the time, and I was bought — hook, line and sinker.”

On Jan. 11, 1991, Les Carnley was dropped off at Army basic training by his father.

“I was very proud at that moment, but I was a little sad because I had been down that road,” Danny Carnley said.

The exchange also signified a changing of the guard, as Les Carnley enlisted a few months before his dad put in his retirement papers.

Les Carnley put 15 years in, with stints in the Charlie Company as an M1 armor crewman. He also spent one year in Iraq, and the majority of his career time in the reserves.

“The cool thing about my dad and I’s relationship is that he understands his era and I understand mine, and it helps us meet in the middle about some stuff,” he said. “We’re able to share some stories, but we also get to learn from each other.”

Royce Carnley joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18, influenced by his father and other family members and friends.

“It just felt right and needed to happen,” he said.

Danny Carnley’s youngest son, Royce, is currently serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.

“It’s no different than it was with Les,” Carnley said of his second son’s deployment. “I love them both, but I want him to come home.”

Both sons have children of their own, and Les Carnley addressed the possibility of continuing the Carnley military era.

“If this is something my kids decide to do, I’m going to tell them to do something that will give you an education on the outside,” he said. “I’ll always be proud to be in the Army.”

Danny Carnley said family, especially his children, were behind the decision of his military retirement.

“My daughter Marsy was born and that was the main reason I got out of the Navy,” he said. “I decided at that point that I wanted to be a father more than I wanted to stay in the Navy and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.”

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