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A legacy to last: a family love for the bomber community

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emma Anderson
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

With pride flowing through their veins, for generations, a family has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to their country, family and brothers and sisters in arms – a legacy.

Following in her grandfather's footsteps, U.S. Air Force Capt. Simone Durham, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer pilot, finds a strong connection to her service in the Air Force through her family history.

Durham is currently the Bomber Task Force 24-1 project officer. This leadership position requires her to be educated on all aspects of the mission. As the project officer, Durham oversees logistics, weapons requests, lodging and overall organization to guarantee the mission is executed smoothly and efficiently.

Cecil Duryea, Durham's grandfather, served 30 years in the Air Force as a bomber and fighter pilot. He deployed numerous times and finished his career as the base commander at Vance AFB in Oklahoma, where he flew T-38 Talons and trained students for aerial combat missions during the Vietnam War.

Throughout Durham's childhood, hearing stories of adventure and missions from her grandfather sparked a passion for flying while acknowledging the challenges her family overcame.

"My grandma made many sacrifices, my grandparents had six kids and my grandpa was deployed frequently, so it felt like my grandma was a single mom sometimes," said Durham. "But it was all worth it because of the importance of what he was doing and now the family legacy is being carried on with me."

The whole family took pride in Duryea's military service, inspiring Durham to start an Air Force journey. After high school, she attended the Air Force Academy, which transformed Durham into a leader.

"During my first couple years at the academy, I was more focused on the social aspects of being a college student," said Durham. "But in the last two years, I started to shift my mindset into becoming an officer, as I realized people would look to me for guidance so I wanted to become someone worthy of leading them."

Durham expressed that taking on the role of a project officer during the BTF has been challenging, but meeting new people while gaining abundant knowledge and experience was extremely rewarding.

"Back at our home station, shops are in different squadrons and buildings all around the base," said Durham. "But when we execute the BTF mission we are all functioning as one squadron, the 9th EBS, so I strive to make sure everyone is included in the team."

After gaining a new confidence in leading and a further understanding of how missions are executed, Durham is seeking higher levels of education. Her goal is to improve her tactical knowledge by attending weapons school. She is dedicated to continuing to serve the bomber community, just like her grandfather.

"The project officer role is crucial to maintaining clear communications and readiness throughout the mission," said Lt. Col. Ryan Stillwell, 9th EBS commander. "Durham has done a great job taking charge and showcasing her abilities to lead."