Daniel Willis retires from U.S. Navy

By Mary Louise Ruehr Published:

IS1 (SW/AW) Daniel J. Willis retired recently from the U.S. Navy. He is the son of Donn and Linda Willis of Ravenna and is a 1988 graduate of Ravenna High School.

Willis attended U.S. Navy boot camp in 1992 in Great Lakes, Ill., followed by Fireman Apprenticeship Training. He then reported to the USS Saipan (LHA-2) as an undesignated E-3, assigned to the air-conditioning and refrigeration shop, where he made Engineman 3rd Class.

He later changed ratings to Mess Specialist 3rd Class, onboard the USS Conolly (DD-979). He held the positions of cook on the watch and jack of the dust.

In January 1997 he transferred to his first shore duty station at NSA Norfolk, where he became a well-known cake decorator sought by many ships on the Norfolk, Va., waterfront and one command in Quantico, Va.

His next sea command was with the VF-102 "Diamondbacks." He held many positions while with the squadron, including watch captain, baker, building manager and cake decorator, and was promoted to Mess Specialist 2nd Class.

When the 9/11 attacks occurred, he was onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and decided he wanted to do more for the Navy. Senior Chief Michael Hass convinced him to cross-rate to the Intelligence rating, and after attending Intelligence Specialist "A" and "C" schools, he reported to the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Willis held the positions of watch supervisor and assistant DAPA and became one of four duty section leaders and leading petty officer for his division after advancing to Intelligence Specialist 1st Class.

His final sea tour was with Commander Amphibious Squadron Four. He held the position of staff leading petty officer and was also responsible for the command urinalysis and command financial specialist programs. His final command was with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Office of Military Support. At this command, he held the positions of watch supervisor, leading petty officer, command urinalysis coordinator and command career counselor.

Over the past 20 years, he has completed four cruises. During the 9/11 cruise on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the crew achieved a new post-World War II record of 159 days for the longest period at sea without a port of call.

The decorations he earned are the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3), Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Navy "E" Ribbon (3), Good Conduct Medal (6) National Defense Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Sea Service Ribbon (4), Navy Rifle Expert Medal, Navy Pistol Expert Medal, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist and Career Counselor Badge.

He is married to Mary Grace D. Willis of Virginia Beach, Va. They have two children: Rachelle, 17, is a senior at Landstown High School and Matthew, 12, is in seventh grade at Landstown Middle School.

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