The ringing of a doorbell will never be the same for our family. In the early evening of August 6, 2011, our lives changed forever when we opened the door to two uniformed Army officers. “Are you the parents of Spencer Colson Duncan?” There had to be some mistake. There was no way this young man, this child we loved so much, this little boy with the quick mind and quicker wit, this loyal friend, this caring family member, this proud dog owner could possibly cease to exist. We loved him too much for him to not be part of our lives.
Spencer had a very successful career as a big brother. He felt that it was his responsibility to introduce his brothers to the finer points of boyhood: climbing trees, swinging really high, and setting things on fire whenever possible. His sense of adventure was often grander than his ability to think through the consequences.From the beginning, Spencer was out to change the world. His infectious laugh and unlimited inquisitiveness captivated those around him. It was always fun to watch a waiter or waitress do a double take when that precocious two year old ordered Crab Rangoon. (Okay, he pronounced it “pram ramgoom,” but he got his point across.)
As he grew, Spencer learned many things that would later serve him well. He conquered his fears and learned to turn them into strengths. For example, one day he made up his mind to not be afraid of the dark; it worked. That certainly came in handy while he was in Afghanistan flying missions on nights when there was NO ambient light!
As a teenager, Spencer’s true passion was driving around. Endlessly. If anyone needed a ride, regardless of how far, Spencer was the one to call. He had rules for anyone riding with him. For example, HE controlled the music including, but not limited to, volume, song selection, and whether or not a song would play all the way to the end. No one could ever assume that Spencer didn’t know what he wanted.
When Spencer joined the United States Army Reserves, he landed a coveted spot in the 7/158th Aviation Regiment as a Chinook helicopter repairer. Spencer was always fascinated with flying, but it was the Chinook that really captured his attention. He loved those workhorses, and he diligently applied himself to learn everything he could about how Chinooks operate. He studied, and he put himself into the big middle of any part of those helicopters every chance he had. And at every opportunity, he flew.
We have been asked, many times, if we wish Spencer would not have joined the Army and become a door gunner. The answer is a resounding “NO.” Don’t misunderstand—we would love more than anything to have our boy back. We miss every single thing about him. But what we know, and what brings us comfort, is that Spencer got to do what he was meant to do, and he got to make a difference.
In memory of Spencer, we would like to honor the brave men and women who have given and who continue to give of themselves to ensure freedom for the people of the United States. The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Project is dedicated to supporting organizations, communities, and individuals who choose to make a difference in the lives of veterans. Please join alongside us.