On May 31, 2011 Darby and fellow sailors filed into the daily crowd that gathers outside Rockefeller Plaza to watch the live broadcast of the “Today” Show.
A sea of uniforms filled the screen when anchors Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira mentioned Fleet Week. The annual event brings the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to New York City for entertainment and activities during the week leading up to Memorial Day.
Having served watch from 2 to 4 a.m. that morning, Darby arrived to “30 Rock” after only an hour of sleep. Despite being groggy, he says the NBC crew picked him to stand up front because he looked like a “model sailor,” perfect for TV.
“In fact, both Meredith Vieira and Ann Curry told me I was cute,” said Darby.
Somehow Darby was able to stand out from the dozens of other sailors in dress uniform. The camera found a way back to him several times during the national broadcast. During a commercial, Darby had a brief moment to chat with Vieira, Curry, and Al Roker.
The “Today” Show was certainly the highlight of Darby’s first visit to New York City. Stops at Wall Street, Broadway, Central Park, Times Square, and the Empire State Building all made their way into the week’s schedule.
Darby says he left with a new, positive opinion of the Big Apple.
“I would like to visit again, but I could never live there. There are too many people,” he said.
Perhaps his service in the military will bring a return trip. Petty Officer Third Class Darby has already logged countless miles since enlisting. Serving as an electronics technician on the USS Carr, he is attending a Security Reaction Force school to train in taking-over pirated ships and counter drug operations.
Other sailors are learning from Darby how to set up satellite communications within their strike group. Progressing in rank is a short-term goal before entering the special warfare community supporting Navy SEALS.
Advanced micro-electronics training will be put to use once Darby leaves the Navy. Originally a music education major at Northwestern State University, he expects to return and pursue a degree in biomedical engineering.
He hopes to serve as a mentor or advisor to the Beta Omicron Chapter.
“Without Pi Kappa Phi, I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself to accomplish the things I have. I want to make sure I can help again one day.”