Youth Behind The Military Parent's Uniform
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell
July 6, 2018
Being a child born into a military family may be challenging, but for one child in the Malmstrom community, he believes it’s another experience he can take with him wherever he goes.
Fifth-grader Mason Duggan, son of Lt. Col. Jerrod Duggan, 341st Maintenance Group deputy commander, has moved four times since birth, with another move coming up this year.
From Ohio, to Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii and Montana, Mason sees each move as an advantage to experience new cultures and meet new people.
“I like to see new things, do new things and see what is going on there and compare it to where I’ve been,” said Mason. “I like going around the world, finding new cultures, being with new people and exploring.”
In March 2018, Mason competed in a local essay contest and one evening his family gathered at a museum to learn who the winners were.
Awards were announced and Mason took home the city title and grand-prize of a framed painting and cash award. He competed against 21 other semi-finalists.
Mason Duggan, son of Lt. Col. Jerrod Duggan, 341st Maintenance Group deputy commander, poses with award certificates March 2, 2018, in Great Falls, Mont. Duggan was the city’s grand prizewinner for an essay contest and received a painting and cash award. (Courtesy photo provided by Kimberly Duggan)
After the announcement, the winners gave a speech and read their essays to the audience.
“We were extremely excited,” said Jerrod. “Watching him before they announced it, seeing how nervous and anxious (Mason) was, shows how much he’s invested into the contest himself.
“When it was announced, we just felt overwhelming pride,” he continued.
The Duggans moved to Malmstrom in the middle of the academic year. When this happens, sometimes children start school and become behind in their studies by a few weeks.
“Coming from schools they were at in Hawaii, his first teacher was gentle, caring, tender and compassionate – almost coddled him,” said Jerrod. “When we got here, his teacher was different, so he had that challenge on top of being behind his peers in schoolwork.”
Because of the several permanent change of stations, the Duggans don’t worry over their children, as being born into a military family, these changes are normal for them.
Even when Jerrod has to leave home for a TDY, Mason stays confident and adjusts.
“It’s different. It’s not bad or good, but it’s definitely a change,” said Mason. “I’m sure it’s hard for my mom because she has to deal with my brother and me, but if she needs help we take time to help her.”
Being a child born into a military family promotes resiliency to where the individual takes that experience with them or shares it with others as they grow.
From left, Lt. Col. Jerrod Duggan, 341st Maintenance Group vice commander, his son Mason, and wife Kimberly, pose for a portrait April 2, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. The Duggan family has moved five times since Mason’s birth, with a sixth move coming up later in the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tristan Truesdell)
“I believe the military is creating some amazing future adults,” said Jerrod. “Our military children are able to take on challenges that come their way and adjust as life calls for.
“Because of the way they’ve grown up, they’re not missing a beat knowing that sometimes in life you just have to deal with the things that are put in front of you,” he continued. “I’m appreciative of the resilience that we create for our children through this military lifestyle.”