National Guard Couple With 3 Kids Celebrate Their Promotions on the Same Day

September 17, 2020 Updated: September 17, 2020

The Derda family of Washington was able to share in the joy of a major milestone when two officers, a husband and wife, were promoted on the very same day.

For Col. Kristin Derda and Lt. Col. Krystian Derda, both longtime members of the U.S. Army and Washington National Guard, the shared ceremony had been a long time coming.

Kristin and Krystian received their promotions during a ceremony on Sept. 3 at Camp Murray in Washington. The honor of pinning the couple’s new rankings was bestowed upon their children, Dominik, Emilia, and Maksymilian.

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The Derda family pictured together at the joint promotion ceremony at Camp Murray, Washington, on Sept. 3, 2020. (Peter Chang/U.S. National Guard)

“All these years, I have never been able to synchronize our promotion,” Krystian said in an interview with the National Guard, “so this is a special day for us.”

Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, commanding general of the Washington Army National Guard, officiated the ceremony.

“You will remember this day, you will tell your Soldiers, ‘I was there the day the Derda family was promoted,’” Brig. Gen. Dent said.

The commanding general then praised the Derdas for their “deep commitment” to the Guard, to its soldiers, to their family, and to each other.

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Maj. Krystian Derda (L), Lt. Col. Kristin Derda (C), and Brig. Gen. Dan Dent (R) salute the flag prior to the Derdas’ joint promotion ceremony on Sept. 3, 2020. (Joseph Siemandel/U.S. National Guard)

The Washington National Guard shared photos from the Derdas’ promotion ceremony on Facebook on Sept. 4, the day after the big event.

The post read: “Congratulations to both Col. Kristin and LTC Krystian Derda on their joint promotions yesterday!”

The couple was able to celebrate with their family, friends, and fellow soldiers, the post said. Some were in attendance at Camp Murray, and some beamed in virtually as the ceremony was filmed and broadcast online.

Between them, the Derdas have committed almost 45 years of combined service, 29 years of which have been spent with the Washington National Guard.

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(L–R) Maksymilian, Dominik, and Emilia Derda prepare to promote their parents on Sept. 3, 2020 (Joseph Siemandel/U.S. National Guard)

Krystian, who comes from a military family, joined the U.S. Army in 2004 straight from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He was tasked as a platoon leader with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington.

This was the time when the two met, got married, and started their family before Krystian deployed to Iraq in 2006, the National Guard stated.

Krystian retired and joined the Washington National Guard after eight years of active duty and multiple deployments to Iraq. He was the lead planner for Operation Evergreen Ember, a statewide wildfire training initiative, and now serves as the state’s deputy personnel officer.

Kristin’s career journey began in 1992 when she enlisted in the U.S. Army as an automated logistics specialist. She left active duty seven years later to join the Washington Army National Guard.

The mom of three ascended the ranks over the course of 20 years, was deployed to Iraq in 2004, and has held multiple leadership positions at the company, battalion, brigade, and state levels.

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Col. Kristin Derda hugs her daughter, Emilia, after being promoted at Camp Murray, Washington, on Sept. 3, 2020 (Joseph Siemandel/U.S. National Guard)

Kristin told the National Guard that she is still in disbelief amid her promotion.

“Who would have thought that I would be standing here today?” Kristin said. “Twenty-eight years ago, when I came home with a recruiter to enlist, my parents were in shock.”

At the time of writing, Kristin commands the Washington Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

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