FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Sgt. 1st Class John Monnett won't be receiving a neck-tie, cologne or dress socks this Father's Day; instead he'll be enjoying an MRE (meal, ready-to-eat) with his wife in the desert.
However, before he began his training at Fort Irwin's National Training Center, his 13-year-old daughter called him on the phone to sing a song that she wrote for him.
"It's one of the best gifts I've ever received," said Monnett, who also has a 9-year-old son.
Monnett, a human intelligence collector, assigned to 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is currently at NTC preparing for a deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Admittedly, if he weren't here training, he'd prefer being home enjoying his family. But he understands that service means sacrifice. How does he handle it?
"Not looking at it as though they are sacrifices," explained Monnett, who also goes by Danny. "For us, it's continually looking ahead, knowing that it's a means to an end, and that it's taking care of our family."
Monnett won't be alone on Father's Day, nor will he have just his Army family, but will also have his best friend -- his wife -- by his side. Both of them are here at NTC and preparing to deploy together for the first time.
"My wife and I have been through a lot," said Monnett, reflecting on their shared challenges in the Army. "Being able to see her on a daily basis makes this seem easy."
Staff Sgt. Tiffany Monnett, a broadcast journalist in the brigade, appreciates him as her partner and the father of her children.
"He's very strict, but probably one of the most loving and fair parents that I can think of," said Tiffany. "He knows what the kids want to achieve and pushes them hard to achieve their goals, while still making them feel important."
As tears started to well up in her eyes and stream down her cheeks all she could say was, "He's so awesome."
Tiffany, a native of Grants Pass, Ore., explained that on his last deployment, from which he returned a year ago, it was hard with him being gone. But this time they'll get their deployment done at once, so together they can reintegrate with their kids and spend quality family time together once again.
"We have a good family support group outside of our immediate family," noted Tiffany. "Our kids are comfortable around them, and we have the satisfaction of knowing they'll be safe."
Every evening, the Monnetts join the long line of Soldiers formed up for dinner, but they make the most of it and call it a date. They even find opportunities to visit one another during their few short breaks within the long, hectic training days.
But they will soon complete their monthlong training here and return home to the best belated Father's Day gift of all -- seeing their children once again.
Tiffany, still dabbing a tear from the corner of her eye, stated that Danny's one of the best men she's ever known and believes that, "With his guidance I know that our kids will grow up and do great things."