Lanesborough, MA native serves community in dual roles as firefighter, MA ANG Airman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Hanna Smith
  • 104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Here at the 104th Fighter Wing, our Barnstormers pride themselves in their involvement and support of their communities.

One of the wing’s newest Barnestormers: Staff Sgt. Caitlyn Durant, a weapons load crew team member with the 104th Fighter Wing’s Weapons Flight, exemplifies 104FW community dedication through her involvement as a volunteer firefighter in her hometown of Lanesborough, Massachusetts.

“I made the decision to join my hometown’s fire department in 2017, a couple of years after enlisting into the Vermont Air National Guard,” said Durant. “Since then it has easily been one of the most personally rewarding decisions I have made. I love being able to serve both my community and country both in uniform as an Air National Guardsman, and in my protective gear as a firefighter.”

Durant has since moved to the 104FW to serve her community closer to home. Being a Guardsman, means being part of the community. Members of the Guard serve in a dual role fulfilling both a federal and state mission. This opportunity affords Durant and Barnestormers like her to serve both her local community and her nation simultaneously.

Durant credits her Air National Guard training and experience for preparing her for her role in the Lanesborough town fire department.

“My initial training in the Air Force strengthened my ability to respond during times of crisis,” said Durant. “Skills such as: situational awareness, first aid, crisis response, accountability and teamwork are worked on during exercises and drill weekends which absolutely has prepared me and strengthened my abilities when responding to all sorts of emergency calls at my fire department.”

When Durant is not responding to emergency calls with her town’s fire department, she trades in her fire protective equipment for her military uniform.

“I am an aircraft armaments systems specialist, more specifically, I am part of a two-man loader team that is responsible for verifying the safety and serviceability of the F-15C Eagle’s weapons launching equipment,” said Durant. “My day-to-day responsibilities include: ensuring the launcher rails for missiles are prepped for loading and downloading procedures and assisting other crew members. Armament specialists are an important piece in effectively defending our nation’s air spaces.”

For Durant, one of her most memorable experiences in the Air Force occurred on her first deployment overseas in December of 2016.

“It was a really eye-opening experience for me,” said Durant. “It was my first time being outside of the United States and it was my first time performing my job at an active operational level. It was incredible to experience both new cultures, and a different operational tempo at the same time, both for the first time in my life.”

Without her experiences in the Air National Guard and Lanesborough, Massachusetts fire department, Durant believes her life would look quite different.

“Both of my career paths helped me grow into the person I am today,” said Durant. “I have become much more confident in myself and my capabilities, I’ve become a better leader, I’ve become more independent and it has given me some much needed direction in my life. I would not be anywhere near the person I am today if I didn’t make the decision to raise my right hand for my nation and community.”

While both her civilian and military occupations keep her busy, Durant makes sure to find time for her goals and hobbies. One example, which all enlisted Air Force personnel must work toward, is the Community College of the Air Force associate’s degree. A degree where an Airman’s technical experience is credited toward completion of an accredited associate’s degree.

“Currently I am working toward finishing my CCAF associate's degree,” said Durant. “Professionally, I’m working hard to become the leader I needed when I was a brand new Airman. Personally, I’m moving toward becoming more in-tune with my health and fitness and making time to spend with my horse and dog back home. Spending time with animals has always been like therapy to me. They say you save them, but really they save you.”

To Durant, the greatest part about both of her positions is her ability to help people.

“I serve to be able to help people both in my immediate community and throughout the world,” said Durant. “From my experiences deploying to my service at home, it’s an incredibly rewarding feeling to know that I am able to serve the people of both my community, my nation and beyond with both of my careers.”