When a person joins the military, it is something that is felt by the entire family. This is especially true when not only do two siblings decide to join together, but are also in the same brigade and deployed at the same time. That is what happened with Danielle and Blaise Gargiulo of Gulfport.
“My parents actually met in Germany while they were both in the Army,” Blaise said. “All four of my dad’s brothers served, my mom’s dad was in the Navy, my cousin also serves. The military is how we eventually ended up in Gulfport.”
Growing up in the military lifestyle, it wasn’t surprising when Blaise joined the ROTC at the University of Southern Mississippi to offset some of the expenses.
“I really enjoyed the experience,” he said. “I’m actually the one that recommended to Dani that she join.”
Though she started in her junior year at USM, she hasn’t looked back since.
“I’m the kind of person who once I start something, I’m going to finish it,” she said. “I grew up moving every one to two years, always experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. I enjoyed that lifestyle. I never looked back from ROTC.”
However, Blaise and Danielle never felt like they were forced into this lifestyle.
“Growing up, we were always looking up to our parents,” Danielle said. “They were supportive, but never pushed us. We just came to it on our own.”
“This is what I know most,” Blaise said. “I’ve never had any second thoughts. It’s a phenomenal profession. I got to lead early in my career timeline and see the world. I respect my civilian friends, but I’ve never regretted it.”
While the Gargiulos are a military family, that does not mean it was easy for their parents, Fred and Michele, when Blaise and Danielle joined the Army.
“They were supportive, since they knew what it was all about, but our mom was apprehensive,” Blaise said.
“Having two kids deployed at the same time is kind of tough on them,” Danielle added.
However, the siblings do see benefits in being deployed at the same time.
“It’s been great,” Blaise said. “I grew up close to Dani, and having two siblings in the same division is very rare, so it’s very fortunate we ended up in the same brigade. We all know a lot of the same people professionally and socially. If there is something I need I can go to her for help. It’s great for both of us and our parents, too.”
“I got the chance to travel through Baghdad back in April, which is where Blaise is stationed, so I got to spend about four to five days there visiting with him,” Danielle said. “It was really refreshing to spend time with him in the middle of deployment. He’s one of my best friends.”
Last Christmas was tough on the family because they were all anticipating the deployment. This year will be more relaxed, now that they have returned home. The two look forward to spending time over the holidays with their younger sister, Sydney.
“She’s a senior at Auburn studying architecture,” Blaise said. “It’s kind of the running joke that she’s the black sheep because she didn’t join the military like us. But it was her choice and we respect that.”
About the series
Our Kind of People is a feature in the Sun Herald and at SunHerald.com that spotlights South Mississippi people whose life or work is an inspiration to others.