For Sgt. Maj. Daniel L. Krause, the moment that stands out most from the nearly 20 years of military service has nothing to do with the military. It has nothing to do with being wounded in combat. It has nothing to do with lengthy training operations in stunning areas — like New Zealand.
The Windsor native and decorated Marine’s most memorable moment, he says without hesitation, was marrying his wife, Valerie, 12 years ago. Now as his sixth tour — second to Afghanistan — approaches, the veteran knows that no matter where his travels take him, his roots to Windsor and steadfast wife and family will be with him.
“The day I retire, that’s who’s waiting there to leave the gate with me,” Krause said from California, where he lives with his wife and their two children, Steven, 7, and Jake, 5. “The one thing above all (that stands out) would definitely be marrying my wife.”
Krause, 38, grew up in the Windsor area and graduated from Windsor High School in 1994. Immediately after, though, he was off to training in San Diego, leaving behind his family, which still prides itself on having a deep line of Windsor High School graduates. His father’s grandparents owned a farm north of Severance. His grandfather went to school in Windsor.
And when he talks about his Windsor-area family, he often turns the most heads when he says his uncle is Dennis Guffy, longtime Rocky Mountain Oyster chef at Severance’s famous Bruce’s Bar.
As Krause puts it, even though he left the state, some things stick with you forever.
“We definitely have ties to Windsor and Severance,” he says with a laughed.
Krause has since been on combat tours around the world, taking him to the Asian Pacific and the Middle East. In that time he has risen through the ranks and raked in the honors, including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and several other honors.
His career was nearly derailed in July 2010 when he came under enemy fire and was wounded in combat operations that put him in the hospital for 16 days followed by nearly eight months of recovery with Wounded Warrior Battalion West. He still praises the work of the field medics and military groups that saved his life and helped him recover, eventually putting him back in the service — even after a decade and a half already under his belt.
“That’s what keeps me going is just begin able to work alongside the finest men and women our country has to offer,” he says.
But serving still has its challenges, even after all these years, he says. The seven month tour he is set to embark on later this month to Afghanistan will be one of the most challenging yet, especially knowing that his two children are now old enough to understand what deployment means — that it’s different than training.
With his 20th year anniversary in the service just 8 months away, he still isn’t sure when he’ll call it quits. His mantra on this job, he says, is that it’s time to go when you’re no longer having fun.
He wasn’t about to predict when that might be. He’s just thankful to have the family that he does, knowing that it gets harder every time he leaves.
“It takes a special woman to do this for a long period of time,” he says, adding that his wife is stronger than he is. “They’re everything to me — my wife and my family.”