Goreville, IL teen completes Army basic training before starting - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Goreville, IL teen completes Army basic training before starting senior year

A lot of kids decide to go into the military when they finish high school, but one Johnson County teen went a step farther by going to basic training this summer - before her senior year in high school. (Source: Darnell Family) A lot of kids decide to go into the military when they finish high school, but one Johnson County teen went a step farther by going to basic training this summer - before her senior year in high school. (Source: Darnell Family)
The 18-year-old decided to spend her summer before senior year in basic training instead of taking the time off. (Source: Darnell Family) The 18-year-old decided to spend her summer before senior year in basic training instead of taking the time off. (Source: Darnell Family)
It wasn't always easy, but she says her fellow soldiers kept her going. (Source: Darnell Family) It wasn't always easy, but she says her fellow soldiers kept her going. (Source: Darnell Family)
"That's what kept me going – is hearing from my family and those phone calls meant a lot," Darnell said. (Source: Darnell Family) "That's what kept me going – is hearing from my family and those phone calls meant a lot," Darnell said. (Source: Darnell Family)
GOREVILLE, IL (KFVS) -

A lot of kids decide to go into the military when they finish high school, but one Johnson County teen went a step farther by going to basic training this summer - before her senior year in high school.

Ashlyn Darnell doesn't have any direct family in the military.

She didn't know much about it before she looked into signing up, but now she says the Army is giving her life focus.

"It was a challenge," Darnell said. "A very, very difficult challenge but it was so worth it. I don't regret my decision at all."

Although she is soft spoken, Darnell is tough.

The 18-year-old decided to spend her summer before senior year in basic training instead of taking the time off.

Her mom, Melissa Darnell, said her daughter has always been a little more mature than most.

"I tried to talk her out of going actually," Melissa Darnell said. "I regret it because she did so well, but I kept saying you need to enjoy your summer. You're a kid."

So she signed up - and spent 11 weeks at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

"There were hard days, long weeks, but once you accomplish something you thought you couldn't accomplish it's the best feeling ever," Darnell said.

It wasn't always easy, but she said her fellow soldiers kept her going.

"We made a promise to each other that we weren't going to let each other fail, we weren't going to let each other quit, and she pushed me all the way through," Darnell said.

Darnell said letters from home were incredibly important.

"That's what kept me going...is hearing from my family and those phone calls meant a lot," Darnell said.

"It was good to get to write the letters, but it was hard not to get to talk to her on the phone and hear her voice so you could really see if she was ok," Melissa Darnell said.

Darnell excelled during her time at basic training, and in the end, she and three others were promoted.

"My captain said, 'I know we don't talk a lot, but I notice you. You're quiet, but you get stuff done quietly."

Darnell said the experience is helping her see there is much more to herself than she imagined.

"My body gives up way before my mind does, and when you're mentally tougher you can push yourself so much more than you thought you could. "

Darnell wants to attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville after high school to be a nurse.

Then she plans to report for active duty, and hopes to travel the world.

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