Specialist Damani Rickenbacker, 21, is an enlisted member of the U.S. Army. The days that he spends as a motor transportation officer in the 196th Transportation Company unit are also spent being a college student.
Specialist Rickenbacker is also a sophomore business student at Florida A&M University.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Rickenbacker was initially against his stepfather’s suggestion of enlisting. “I was totally against it,” he said.
After taking numerous standardized tests and weighing options for his future with a recruiter for the military, Rickenbacker decided to enlist.
“I deduced ‘why not?’ Three years later, I have not regretted any decision[s] and the military has granted me opportunities [that] only [it] could.”
Rickenbacker was also determined to graduate from college. To balance his roles as a college student and an enlisted soldier, he looks to both his Army fiscal year calendar and FAMU’s academic calendar to schedule his classes. To stay focused and organized he says his discipline and “strong communication skills between [his] professors and [the US Military] chain of command” allow him to be both a soldier and a student.
The Army reports to the Department of Defense, an executive branch department that is under the authority of the United States president and Secretary of Defense. Currently, rising tensions between the American and Iranian governments, including the threat of military retaliation by both parties, has sparked numerous viral memes that make fun of the possibility of a military draft for a war with Iran.
It began trending on various social media outlets as “WWIII” and features pictures, videos, and text posts about what millions would do if there were a draft. It was reported on CNN that the hashtag “#WW3” “has collected nearly 500,000 mentions” on Instagram alone.
Rickenbacker, who would be directly affected if there were to be a draft, admitted that, as a soldier, he found some of the memes to be humorous but “will not tolerate [any] type of [memes that] disrespect or [mention] harm to soldiers.”
He believes that an American-Iranian war would be “a different type of war … civilians will never truly understand how serious [these matters are] and how … soldiers take these matters.
“The possibility of a [draft] is likely and I just hope those who can make jokes can also stand up. Let’s respect one another, that’s all,” he added.
Dreanna Neal, a junior business student at Florida A&M University and a friend of Rickenbacker’s, agrees with his sentiments on the possibility of war. “Every time I look on the news, Trump and Iran gets mentioned. Sure, the pictures on the internet are funny but at the end of the day, war is something that would devastate millions of people and families. Just the possibility of that happening is frightening.”
Despite the widespread perceived threat of war, Rickenbacker laughed as he described being enlisted as “a blessing and exhausting.” But, if there is a draft, he will not hesitate to serve his country. “If I get the call, then I get the call,” he said.