Blanca Duran

It was a cold and windy night; the wind was howling at the moon; the birds were loudly silent, the scorpions hid underneath the rocks. There were little children sleeping in the kitchen, six laid on a hay mat. The older children were on either side of the mat and the younger ones were in the middle for warmth for the cold winter days had no compassion on their tiny bodies. They wondered why they had to sleep in the kitchen and not the room they usually occupied; suddenly the silence was broken with a baby's cry. December 1967 was when I was born in a rural town in Mexico. A house-trained midwife helped my Mom with the delivery. I came to the United States when I was nine years of age, this was 40 years ago. I joined the Army Reserve when I was 22-years-old because I did not want to be 70-years-old and wonder what it would have been like to be in the military. It has been an incredible love affair ever since.Blanca Duran

My first deployment was in 2008; we went to Kuwait where I worked as the assistant to the Deputy Commanding Officer, during that time I had the great pleasure to work closely with our allied forces. It was rather interesting for a four foot eleven inch, 105 lb soldier to be the personal security detail for such a high ranking officer. Though we had troops in Iraq and we did go visit them, our mission was mainly in Kuwait. During that time I experienced a meeting of the forces with Kuwaiti Generals, Australian allies, Korean allies, and British allies. I knew that our mission was crucial as logisticians.

I went on my second deployment in 2010; during that time, I was in Kuwait and in Kyrgyzstan; I was responsible for the Deployed Theater Accountability Software (DTAS) department. Our main focus was the accountability of all personnel going to Afghanistan; it was there that I had the distinct pleasure to work with Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines. My heart was filled with honor and gratitude towards all the allied forces whose stop before heading to Afghanistan was Manas, Kyrgyzstan; it was there that I interacted with many Polish soldiers, soldiers from Mongolia, civilians from America, and of course our troops. It was during this tenure that my Dad passed away, I flew back to the United States to arrange his funeral, two weeks later I went back to Kuwait.

In 2013 I went on a tour of duty to Illinois to work with a community based warrior transition unit where I was the Platoon Sergeant for no more than 40 soldiers at a time. This was a pleasant and rewarding experience. One of my Soldiers who had saved a boy’s life in Iraq was healing from his wounds. He had been in the Warrior Transition Unit for a few years when I first arrived. During that time he had not received Basic Allowance for Housing from the time his active duty started, therefore, I prepared all his paper work, made a tremendous amount of phone calls, pleaded with many personnel and finally six month later he collected his long overdue payment. This brought great satisfaction to me not only because my soldier was finally taken care of but because others had worked on this issue, but they had given up, persistence and determination paid off literally!

In 2014 to 2016 I went to Fort Sam Houston to work for the Regional Health Command Central as the Human Resources NCO for the Warrior Transition Office. The first year was an amazing year for me because the personnel there was phenomenal, however, the critical incident reports coming in were sometimes heartbreaking. I recall reading a report, due to its sensitivity and nature I felt a knot in my throat as I mentioned it to a comrade. She said, “Sergeant Duran, you can’t let these things get to you.” It was hard not to let someone’s death get to me; he is someone’s son.

Sometimes, we see things we wish we didn’t see, and sometimes we hear things we wish we did not hear but there is a reason we do what we do, and that is because God decided to give us the character to handle anything.

Though I came from humble beginnings and as Old Glory is wrapped around my heart, I am now on top of the world!

Master Sergeant Blanca E. Duran


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