Faces From the Front for May 9, 2011 - Master Sgt. Gregory Tarancon
Current Unit: 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Current Position: Special Forces Detachment Operations Noncommissioned Officer
Component: Alabama National Guard
Current Location: Bagram, Afghanistan
Hometown: Woodbridge, N.J.
Years of Service: 24
For Master Sgt. Gregory Tarancon, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 are still fresh in his mind nearly ten years later. His wife was an American Airlines flight attendant who was originally assigned to flight 11—the first plan to crash into the Twin Towers.
“She made a schedule switch, and just like that, my wife survived. I decided then that if there was going to be a war, I was going to do my part,” he said. “And I also decided to make a career change and devote the rest of my life to combating terrorism.”
That new-found inspiration compelled him to enlist in the Army. During each deployment, Tarancon carries the wings from his wife’s uniform in the pocket of his ACUs as a reminder of why he serves.
A Special Forces Soldier, Taracon has served on the frontlines as a team sergeant, leading 18 fellow Soldiers on various missions throughout eight deployments. During his most recent tour, he planned and executed numerous operations and worked directly with Afghan military leaders in the eastern area of the country. Tarancon also conducted intelligence missions to track local insurgent activity.
“Sometimes it was necessary to distribute humanitarian aid or support a project in order to gain acceptance to a village,” he said. “The main purpose of our missions was to promote trust and support for the government of Afghanistan.”
His dedication has not gone unnoticed by the other Soldiers in his unit, including the leadership. For meritorious service and leadership throughout multiple deployments, Tarancon was awarded the Bronze Star Medal three times.
Ever since his family emigrated from Cuba when he was a young boy, Tarancon wanted to serve in the military.
“Being American is something I am extremely proud of and grateful to be. I have always felt I owed something to the country that granted me and my family our freedom and U.S. citizenship. Serving in the Army was my way to pay back America for our freedom and a chance for a better life,” Tarancon said.
Tarancon’s son is currently a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The younger Tarancon plans to follow in his father’s bootsteps and serve his country. His father couldn’t be more proud.
“It means everything in the world me. What father would not be proud of his son following in his footsteps? My son will have an opportunity to achieve more and go farther that I could ever imagine,” he said.
Master Sgt. Tarancon returned home in April, eager to spend time with his family. In the coming months, he hopes to be promoted to the rank of first sergeant.