MORRIS – Several members of Dylan Hamel’s family served in the military, including his father, his mother’s father and five aunts and uncles. It was a natural choice for Hamel to join after he graduated from Fox Lake Grant High School.
Hamel entered the U.S. Navy in 2009. He attended boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base, embarking on a career that saw six years of active duty and continues as a Navy Reservist.
Over the course of his career, he has seen the world. He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, spent a year and a half in Bahrain and some time in Guam.
“I actually enlisted after my junior year of high school and was in delayed entry, so I went to boot camp after I graduated high school,” Hamel said. “I did four years out of high school, had a three-year break in service and then joined the reserves.
“In the reserves, I do one weekend a month and we have a two-to-four-week constant service time. It’s possible for me to be deployed again as a reservist.”
Hamel, a history teacher and the girls bowling coach at Morris Community High School, has picked up several skills along the way that help him in his service. He began his career as a gunner and he is an expert marksman with a rifle and a pistol. He also is an intelligence specialist and is trained in airstrike warfare.
During his career, he has earned 21 awards and 18 ribbons for his service.
“When I was deployed to Afghanistan, I was in security forces as convoy security,” Hamel said. “I was mainly a gunner protecting vehicles in the convoy. In my four years of active duty in the Navy, I was deployed three times, twice for nine months and once for 10 months. That’s a long time to be gone.”
It was during his last deployment, in 2020-21, that he was in Bahrain and met his wife, who hails from South Africa. The two met and got married and now have a 7-month-old son.
During his three-year break in service, he went to school, planning to become an underwater construction expert.
“I got a job in the Gulf of Mexico doing underwater welding on an oil rig,” he said. “The money was great while I was working, but there might be a long time between jobs, and you have to make that money last. I asked myself what I could do that wouldn’t be so risky.
“I always liked history, so I went to school to become a history teacher. I really love doing that. When I was interviewing, Morris was the first school to offer me a job, so I took it. I am teaching a new class, U.S. Military History. It’s the first year for it, and it’s fun to be at the start of it. Morris has been great to me.”
Hamel said his favorite part of being in the military is the adventure.
“I love to travel and learn about new cultures,” he said. “The Navy has given me the opportunity to travel around the world and see all kinds of different places and cultures.”