Air Force Senior Airman Julia Santiago
Air Force Master Sgt. Namir G. Laureano grew up watching her mother’s love and passion for family, community and soldiers. It was the selfless service of her mom, Norma G. Miranda, that influenced Laureano to join the military.
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 administrative specialist.
“Seeing my mom serve in the military definitely influenced my decision to join,” Laureano said. “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.”
Laureano’s father also served in the Puerto Rico National Guard for 20 years.
“I saw how the military helped [my parents] develop their personal and professional lives in and out of the military,” she said. “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.”
A Mother’s Service Inspires the Next Generation of Service
On June 14, 1979, Laureano’s mother, Norma G. Miranda, enlisted as a private first class in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, working as an administration specialist. She attended basic training in October 1979 at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
“It was the first time I saw snow,” Miranda said.
Upon completion, she proceeded to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) as an administration 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.
“During my military career I had five children,” Miranda said. “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 of my daughter’s achievement [events].”
Miranda’s selfless dedication didn’t go unnoticed. In fact, Miranda’s years in the military inspired some of her children, including Laureano, to be part of the next generation of U.S. service members.
Called to Serve
According to the Air Force Personnel Center, as of Oct. 31, 2020, 20.8% of the enlisted Air Force are women and 15.6% of the Air Force identifies as Hispanic or Latino. According to the Military Personnel Data System, in 2016, females made up about 18% 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,” Laureano said. “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.”
Laureano isn’t Miranda’s only child serving in the military. Her son, Petty Officer 1st Class Norman G. Laureano-Miranda, joined the Navy at age 27.
“I wanted to maintain our family tradition,” Laureano-Miranda said. “I have a long family history in the military, and it is one of the main reasons for me joining the Navy. I’m proud to write another chapter in it.”
Laureano-Miranda says he has high hopes for the future.
“I want to become the first Puerto Rican [Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy], which is the highest enlisted person in the Navy.”
His sister couldn’t be happier.
“I also felt happy and encouraged him when he joined, and he’s very happy too,” Laureano said. “He’s a hard worker and I’m very proud of him.”
- This story originally appeared on defense.gov. It has been edited for USO.org.
More Stories Like This
The Story of Army Cpl. Rodolfo Hernandez: Son of U.S. Immigrants and Medal of Honor Recipient
Some of our nation's biggest heroes come from humble beginnings. Army Cpl. Rodolfo Perez Hernandez can attest to that. The son of migrant farmers joined the Army to help earn money for his family in the late 1940s. He left the service a Medal of Honor recipient.
Meet 5 Service Members of Hispanic Heritage Making Modern Military History
Hispanic Americans have been serving in the military for generations, paving the way for today’s service members. Here are five modern-day Hispanic American service members who are making military history today.
Courage and Valor: 5 Stories of Hispanic American Military Heroes
Throughout U.S. history, Hispanic Americans have served proudly and bravely in all branches of our nation’s military. Learn about five courageous Hispanic American service members who put their duty before themselves.