Chardonnay Durrah’s days often consist of 5 a.m. physical fitness tests with the Wofford College Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), classwork and service with a couple of campus organizations.
Whenever she needs some words of encouragement or help keeping things in perspective while honing her leadership skills, her dad is just a phone call away.
Durrah ’23 is a government major from Roebuck, South Carolina. Her father, Leroy Durrah ’92, served 30 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2018 at the rank of master sergeant.
“He says all the time that he’s lived seven lifetimes, and he has the stories to back it up,” Durrah says.
Durrah took the U.S. Army oath at halftime of the college’s annual Salute to Service football game last weekend. Leroy Durrah was in the stands thinking, “She’s one step closer to making the magic happen.”
Durrah would like to pursue a career as an Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) officer.
Many of her childhood memories are shaped by being part of a military family. She fondly remembers turning 4 years old on a flight to Japan while the family was relocating for one of her dad’s assignments.
“I experienced daycare with the locals and was very immersed in the Japanese culture,” Durrah says.
Leroy Durrah arrived on Wofford’s campus as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard. He was a member of the Terriers football team and had an agreement with the coaching staff to arrive a week later because of National Guard training.
Durrah’s decision to pursue the guard came after receiving a pitch from an Army recruiter who suggested he consider military service to have additional options for a career and a way to pay for college. He spent a year on the Wofford football team before leaving the squad to work and assist his family while earning his Wofford degree.
His Army career included work as a computer analyst and other positions in information technology before becoming a recruiter and completing his Army service working in retention.
After retiring in 2018, he taught JROTC at Union County Comprehensive High School in Union, South Carolina, and his students assisted with the county’s Veterans Day parade.
This Veterans Day will be different. He’s enjoying retirement while considering other opportunities to serve others. His only Veterans Day plan so far is to enjoy a meal out with his wife.
“It’s all about honoring my brothers and sisters in arms,” Leroy Durrah says. “That’s a sacrifice. Less than 10% of the U.S. population has served in the U.S. military.”
Leroy Durrah often shared lessons he learned and opportunities available through the military with his daughters, but he didn’t expect them to serve.
“My dad did a good job of raising my sister and me to make sure we had thick skin and structure shaped by his military background,” says Durrah, whose older sister recently completed eight years of service in the Army.
Leroy Durrah describes Chardonnay as a thrill seeker who often talks about when she’ll get to jump from planes. She also thinks through situations and about giving herself options.
“She didn’t have to go the military route,” Leroy Durrah says. “She already had scholarships for Wofford. That thrill for adventure comes from her competitive nature.”
He appreciates opportunities to listen to his daughters and help them talk through plans.
“That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was younger,” Leroy Durrah says. “To share my experience and give advice and allow them to make decisions that are best for them is awesome.”