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    Texas Air National Guardsman finds success despite life’s challenges

    Pulling your weight

    Photo By Staff Sgt. DeJon Williams | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman DeJon Williams 

    136th Airlift Wing (Texas Air National Guard)

    BASTROP, Texas -- At the 2017 Texas Military Department Best Warrior Competition, March 2 – 4, service members from the Texas Army and Air National Guard, Chile and the Czech Republic were challenged in a series of events to determine the year's best contenders.

    Prior to attending the 3-day event, participants prepared themselves for the rigorous conditions, physical tests and mental challenges that awaited them during the competition.

    For Senior Airman Orlando Duarte, the Best Warrior wasn’t just a competition, but a testament to the obstacles he’d faced and overcame in his life and career.

    Duarte, an aerospace propulsion mechanic with the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard, was born and raised in Mexico then moved to the United States to finish high school.

    Separated from his family, he had to conquer language and cultural barriers to reach his overall goals.

    “I wanted to move here to become a pilot,” said Duarte. “My parents didn't think I was going to take it seriously so they sent me to California by myself. When I got there, I was told by the school that they were going to downgrade me to freshman year because I wasn’t fluent in English. So I was required to do 9th, 10th and 11th grade English before I could graduate.”

    Despite the setback Duarte excelled, finishing the classes and graduating in one year.

    “On my graduation day my dad came from Mexico to pick me up,” he said. “He and I then drove to San Antonio, looked for a house and a week later my two sisters, my little brother and my mom came.”

    After moving to Texas, Duarte joined the Air National Guard. The language barrier continued to be an obstacle but through the support of his family and leadership, he continued to be successful in achieving his goals. Now, having earned his private pilot’s license flying Cessna 150 and 172 model aircraft, Duarte uses opportunities like the Best Warrior Competition to continue to strive for excellence.

    Training for the competition was not an easy feat for him. With only three weeks to prepare and a heavy work schedule, Duarte had to push himself to be performance ready.

    “I’m a full-time technician,” he said. “I would train from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and then had to work 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday. It’s been tough for me, but it’s something I wanted to do and I wanted to do my best. I’m representing my unit and my family. I feel like a lot of people are counting on me. Every time I was tired and wanted to give up, I just kept pushing.”

    Duarte won first place for three of the nine junior enlisted categories.

    To learn more about the Airman of the 149th Fighter Wing, visit



    Date Taken: 03.09.2017
    Date Posted: 03.09.2017 08:33
    Story ID: 226259
    Location: BASTROP, TX, US 
    Hometown: BASTROP, TX, US
    Hometown: SAN ANTONIO, TX, US

    Web Views: 544
    Downloads: 1