MAHWAH, N.J. – Having U.S. Army soldier Danielle Ullman safely back on Mahwah soil would've been enough.
The 25-year-old, however, brought back an American Flag that flew over the Jalalabad District of Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan where Ullman served for 9 months.
Ullman and her parents presented the flag to Mayor Bill Laforet and Council President Robert Hermansen on Thursday.
“We will display it prominently,” Laforet told the family.
“As a mayor, it is just a very, very great honor to be sitting next to you … to see the things that you have done for our country is just extraordinary,” Laforet said to Ullman.
Hermansen also thanked Ullman for her service.
“For us this is where our freedom comes from, it is people like yourself,” he said
Ullman didn’t consider joining the military until the end of her junior year at Mahwah High School.
She says her club diving coach convinced her to apply to West Point.
“He was like, ‘You know what, apply. The worst thing that happens you don’t get in. The best thing that happens, you get in,’” Ullman said.
She followed his advice, and it changed the trajectory of her life.
Ullman, who dove for Division 1 West Point for four years, returned from deployment in January.
She served as a field artillery officer in Afghanistan. She said her unit did police advising to teach the Afghani people how to run a police department.
“Almost every single day we did a mission out to meet somebody to kind of mentor them on how to do their job correctly,” said Ullman, who also helped improve female relations within the communities.
Since returning home, has given talks to students who supported her while she was away and has popped into her favorite local restaurants — like Kinchley’s in Ramsey.
Oh, she also bought a dog, who will accompany her to Fort Hood in Texas, where she will be stationed next weekend.
Ullman said she hopes she inspires others to consider serving their country.
“For females, she said, "it just proves that if you really put your heart and mind to it you can definitely do it."