When Hudson High School graduate Frank Demma first joined the U.S. Army, he wasn't initially planning to stay long.
He was in his 30s, leaving a job as a police officer and searching for something new.
"I was looking for the next big adrenaline, what else can I do," he said.
He thought the military might be a stepping stone to a different kind of work, like with the FBI or another national agency. So he joined in December 2000.
It didn't take him long to realize the Army was going to be so much more to him than a jumping off point.
Nearly two decades later, Demma is still with the Army, working in the military intelligence field. He was promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5 this year, the highest warrant officer ranking with a 3% acceptance rate.
Typically the rank requires 20 years of experience, but Demma earned the promotion after just 18 years.
"The pay for CW5 doesn't even start until you have 20 years of service," Demma said. "So they actually had to come up with one for me."
Demma was promoted to Warrant Officer 1 only two and a half years after he first enlisted. His previous experience as a law enforcement officer played a role in that promotion, he said.
"The Army is very similar in that capacity," Demma said. "I'm a federal agent now as opposed to a local one."
Over the years he was then promoted through the various levels of Chief Warrant Officer.
Demma was initially worried coming into the Army in his 30s, when most new recruits were 18 or 19, but his concerns were unfounded.
"Coming in later in life was probably the greatest thing I ever did," he said.
His maturity and experience put him in a role of someone his fellow soldiers could talk to, almost like a father figure. It also gave him the opportunity for leadership roles and greater responsibility.
During his 18 years of service, Demma has done several different tours - three in Afghanistan, two in Iraq and a 36-month period in Africa.
He was on the first counterintelligence team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11. After that first experience, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He had been in the Army for 20 months at that time.
"It was absolutely fantastic and we were able to do some very good work in Afghanistan," Demma said.
His last deployment, like his first, was to Afghanistan. While there in 2012, Demma was medevaced out and diagnosed with lung cancer.
It could have been the end of his Army career. The Army was prepared to help him heal, and have him medically retired. But the man who started his service in search of a stepping stone was determined to stay.
"I was nowhere near ready to go," Demma said.
He succeeded, fighting off the cancer and continuing his service. He still had more he wanted to accomplish.
Being promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 5 was one of those goals. Though he's reached it, Demma still isn't quite ready to be done. He plans to continue to serve for a few more years before he looks into transitioning into a civilian role.
"I truly, truly love what I do and I love coming to work every single day," he said.
Demma said he is incredibly honored by the promotion. He's looking forward to the additional roles and responsibilities it will bring.
"Some opportunities to make a great impact on the Army, and on the younger soldiers that I get a chance to work with," he said.
He appreciates the public response to service members he's seen over the years. Though his position doesn't have him wearing a uniform often, when he does he often has children and other public members come up to thank him.
"Seeing the public's response to service members, it's probably the most heartwarming thing I've ever seen," he said.
The response is humbling, Demma said, because service members don't do what they do for the glory.
"If it's important for you to be important, then the Army's not the right place for you to be," he said. "It's about the pride and service, and doing what you have to do for your country because somebody has to do it."