[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story continues our series Benelux Family Legacy, which features multigenerational stories from the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and tenant unit partners. This series explores the people who comprise the garrison and delves into the legacy they have created in the Benelux.]
CHIÈVRES AIR BASE, Belgium – Laurette Mauro and Philippe Duquenne like to talk about their love story, which began 36 years ago in the garrison workplace.
At the time, the introduction of computers into the workplace resulted in the additional task of transporting data storage tapes to information technologists at the end of each workday. Philippe transported these data tapes from downtown Mons, Belgium to Caserne Daumerie in Chièvres, Belgium by vehicle each day. Laurette sent the tapes from her department with Philippe and also received blank tapes to resume data recording. Also, they started seeing each other more regularly because Philippe dropped off the mail.
Laurette then worked for the 80th Area Support Group (NATO/SHAPE Support Group), which later became the US Army Garrison Benelux. Philippe drove for the logistics department from 1983. The beginning of their love story was then accompanied by their long career in the army in the community of Chièvres / SHAPE.
“Only civilian drivers were driving – not military at the time,” Philippe said.
It has transported dignitaries, commanders and other very important people on missions throughout its career. Philippe remembers with fondness his transport of several commanders, generals and admirals. His missions even included transporting the US Secretary of Defense and the US Secretary of State at the time.
“A lot of people knew me and I loved my job,” he said.
He added that he received a number of coins for his good services.
Currently, Philippe operates the shuttle from Chièvres Air Base to SHAPE several times a day to transport employees and military personnel back and forth.
Laurette began her garrison work in 1985 on a part-time basis in the Training & Rewards Incentives and Suggestions Branch of the Civilian Personnel Counseling Center located in downtown Mons. The following year, she was promoted to permanent contract as assistant to the technical services staff where she met Philippe. In 1988 they got married.
At the time, Philippe and Laurette were unaware that they were beginning a legacy with the garrison when their daughter Leslie Duquenne was born.
“I was one of the CPAC babies,” Leslie said.
She remembers that she participated in the day of the organization when she was young and that her parents’ colleagues got to know her as she grew up over the years.
In 2015, Leslie joined the Garrison Staff as the Human Resources Assistant for CPAC at Chièvres Air Base.
“It’s weird working with people who saw me as a baby,” she said. “People sometimes know me because I’m the daughter of Laurette and Philippe.”
Leslie had never intended to work for the US military, aiming instead for a dream job in Brussels, but the atmosphere of the garrison attracted her. She talks about how much she enjoys meeting people and discovering new cultures.
“I don’t think I would like to work anywhere else now; I would like to spend my whole career here,” she said. “It’s always positive in my office because we hire people and they’re always happy to have a job. I’m happy to see that I’m useful – even if it’s not my big plans for my life.
Laurette agreed with Leslie’s sentiment about the work environment, adding that she too “really loves being with the American people…and speaking English.”
Moving on from a time when computers and the Internet were little used, Laurette also changed roles when she accepted a position as administrative assistant in the resource management department in 2002 at Daumerie Caserne. In 2011, she was promoted to management analyst in the DRM Manpower Branch, a position she currently holds, although her division is now called Manpower and Agreements and is part of the Resource Management Office. His office is also at Chièvres Air Base now.
Laurette recalled her first use of a microwave, which was a new addition to the break room. As a joke, his colleague asked him to put his croissant in the microwave for five minutes.
“The office started to smell and white (smoke) was coming out of the microwave and suddenly inside the whole office so we had to open all the windows to get all the smoke out,” Laurette said. . “I was really embarrassed!”
The participation and organization of Christmas parties and retirement ceremonies have left good memories for Laurette and Philippe. They described USAG Benelux as one big family.
“These events were so special and I will always remember them,” Laurette said.
The fact that his daughter joins the environment of the army has further increased the family aspect of the work.
“I’m very proud of my daughter and happy that she loves her job as much as I love mine,” said Laurette. “(Hope) she will have a long and distinguished career with USAG Benelux.”
This series, Benelux Family Legacy, will continue to explore the many stories and experiences of the people who make up U.S. Army Garrison Benelux and its tenant organizations. More stories like this about the legacy created by the Garrison’s multi-generational workforce will continue to be published every Wednesday for a few more weeks.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy: Patrick and Charles Delmotte”.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy: Jan and Patrick Maessen”.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy: Liz Schuster, Nicole Shoaf”.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy: Patricia Campo, Alessandro Ricci”.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy: Charlie and Patsy Herbaut”.
Read “Benelux Family Legacy Leon and Michael Lee”.