By Marivir R. Montebon
New York City – The Filipino community here stands proud to have a Filipino-American as the newest entrant to the US Army, 1st Lt. Christal Pagaran Theriot.
Theriot is a graduate of Westpoint (branching aviation) and now an Apache helicopter pilot. This 24-year-old will be assigned to handle a platoon in the fall.
The eldest child of Joy Pagaran and John Theriot, Christal Theriot said she has always wanted to be a soldier. “That is my way of serving the country,” she quipped.
On June 27, 2011, Theriot joined the US Military Academy at West Point when she was 18. About 1200 of them went through the cadet basic training, also called Beast. It is a 6-week training program which transitions them from being civilian to soldier.
Beast was hard, she recalled, but “it teaches you humility.” The petite and soft-spoken Theriot said they were being yelled at all the time and told to drop and do push ups anytime.
At the end of the course, Theriot received an A, while the average was C. After tackling the Beast, she went through West Point and finished an aviation officer last February.
“I am happy how my parents brought me up, helpful of others and having strong faith.”
Her mother, Joy Theriot, recruitment director of the Unification Theological Seminary, said that her daughter Christal and younger siblings were raised appreciating and respecting Filipino roots.
She fondly recalled that Christal wrote an article about her (Joy’s) childhood life in the Philippines. She won first place in the contest and received $500. “I was very proud and happy,” said Joy.
The new lieutenant is not only a strong-willed soldier, she is a talented singer too. “We ladies should know that we are strong women and we have talents and strength given by God,” she said in an interview.