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Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Ann Duran served our country honorably in the U.S. Army from November 8, 1988 to April 6, 2008; a commitment she said she made to herself at the at the age of seven, that when she grew up she was going “to be a soldier like my father.”
Her father, SGT Richard L. Duran was killed in action in Vietnam in 1969 when she was five years old. Sadly, she does not remember him, but remembers the pain that his death brought to her family.
Soon after she joined the Army, she was deployed to the Persian Gulf War and from there to combat duty in Operation Enduring Freedom. A couple of close calls caused her to think that if anything happened to her in combat, her family would again go through the pain and turmoil experienced when her father was killed in action. That’s when she decided to end her active-duty service, but remain a U.S. Army Reservist for the remainder of her career. Some of her awards earned were the National Defense Medal/ 2nd Award, SW Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars, Armed Forces Service Medal, Army Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal/2nd Award. Every soldier who completes Combat Basic Training is taught the Seven Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. Elizabeth took these lessons to heart and truly lived them every day.
I am the Chair of the Veterans Memorial Wall Committee. On our Veterans Wall, at the Veterans Park, at 2651 Roadrunner Parkway, we have over 8,000 names of the armed forces on the Wall who have served our country from Doña Ana County. Included are the names of a mother who served in the Persian Gulf War and her son who served in Afghanistan. We also have the names of sons and grandsons who followed the careers of their fathers and grandfathers to serve our country. Elizabeth’s name is listed on both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq/Afghanistan panels and she is the only Gold Star daughter listed on the Wall.
I first met Elizabeth in 2012, when we started the Memorial Day Candlelight Ceremony at Veterans Park for the service members from Doña Ana County who were killed in action. She shared with me that she wanted to light a candle for her father killed in action in Vietnam. She didn’t remember him she said, but we remember the sharp salute she gave her father after placing the lit candle on the Wall every year.
After fighting in two wars for our freedom, she lost her battle to cancer on January 31, 2021. Attendance at her funeral services on February 24, 2021 at St. Genevieve Catholic Church was limited in compliance with the COVID-19 pandemic; however, her lifelong friends and her Harley-Davidson brothers and sisters, all wearing masks, waited outside the church to escort the motorcycle carrying her cremains for “one last ride” across the street to the San Jose Cemetery where the VFW Post 3242 members led their special ceremony. Military Honors were provided by the Marine Corps League, El Perro Diablo Detachment #478.
Our heartfelt condolences to her mother Anna McGrath, step-father Robert McGrath, brother Jeffrey McGrath, and Gold Star grandmother Manuela Duran.