JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --
“I am very proud of my mom’s service and the heritage that I am come from,” said Master Sgt. Namir Laureano, an admin with the 108th Wing Staff. “I grew up watching her love and passion for her family, community, and soldiers. I have vivid memories helping her take off her boots after coming back from drill weekends, long annual field trainings and missions after 9/11.”
On June 14, 1979, Norma G. Miranda, Laureano’s mother, enlisted in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard as a private first class working as an admin specialist. She attended basic training in October 1979 on Fort Dix, New Jersey. “It was the first time I saw snow,” said Miranda.
Upon completion, she proceeded to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for advanced individual training as an admin specialist. She continued to serve for 35 years and retired as a master sergeant from the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.
“Most of the time, I worked at headquarters on different programs,” said Miranda. “I was a part of the Drug and Demand Program, Youth Challenge Course, and drug testing group. I also worked as an evaluator, sexual assault response coordinator, and a REFRAD [Release from Active Duty] first sergeant. My favorite time serving was when I was a first sergeant. Work never ends and I was taking care of my soldiers 24/7.”
“I remember going with her to work as a child when she was working at the drug demand reduction program,” said Laureano. “Part of the program was to go to low-income communities on weekends and provide drug and alcohol preventative briefings to the youth. The program would also add professional Puerto Rican sports players into the events. I also remember going to work with my mom when the Youth Challenge Program started in Puerto Rico. Back then it was called ‘Juntos.’”
In her high school years, Miranda was involved in many groups and often lead class and sport organizations. “Those experiences motivated me to join the armed forces,” said Miranda. “I wanted to grow my leadership skills and attain other experiences.” During her time in the National Guard, Miranda earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and graduated with magna cum laude honors.
“During my military career I had five children,” said Miranda. “It was sacrificial to be a mother and serve at the same time. I had the support of my mother, Norma Gallardo, and my sister, Ary Miranda, who took care of and represented me at all my daughter’s achievements.”
“Seeing my mom serve in the military definitely influenced my decision to join,” said Laureano. “When I was growing up, I saw and heard her dedication to serving and the positive challenges that come with serving. She learned new skills and had other benefits from joining the military. Both of my parents served, and I saw how the military helped them to develop their personal and professional lives in and out of the military. I grew up watching my parents apply the skills that they learned in the military to their personal lives, civilian jobs and helping the community which they continue to do so.”
On Oct. 26, 2004, Laureano joined the U.S. Air Force and served four years on active duty where she worked in bioenvironmental engineering at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, which is now called Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. She continues to serve in the New Jersey Air National Guard as an admin.
“I joined the military to get out of my comfort zone, learn new things and see new places,” said Laureano. “All of my favorite memories are related to challenging opportunities that helped me grow as an Airmen, wingman and person. I try to make the best of every situation and learn from it and keep moving forward. As my mom would say ‘The sky is the limit.’”
According to the Air Force Personnel Center, as of Oct. 31, 2020, 20.8 percent of the enlisted Air Force are women and 15.6 percent of the Air Force identifies as Hispanic or Latino. According to the Military Personnel Data System, in 2016, females made up about 18 percent of senior non-commissioned officers in the Air National Guard. Laureano fits into this small percentage of Airmen today.
“It’s an honor to be a woman in the military,” said Laureano. “Not only as a woman, but also as a Hispanic woman. It is encouraging to see how through history our roles have been growing within the military and they continue to grow. I am grateful to be part of a small diverse group that makes a difference in our organization and community and has the ability to serve others.”
“I am very proud that my daughter is in the Air National Guard and is serving our nation,” said Miranda.
Miranda currently works as Veterans Affairs liaison for the Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González in her district office in Puerto Rico. Laureano plans to pursue a higher level of education and to start a non-profit organization related to social work.