Duckworth’s life story is truly that of a survivor with capital letters. Born in Bangkok in 1968, she is the daughter of an American of British origins and a Thai-Chinese who worked and lived in the capital of Thailand in those years. She grew up between Asia and the United States and that she ended up serving in the military was practically inevitable, since her paternal family did it for several generations, since the American Revolution. His father, Frank, was a combatant in World War II and in Vietnam as a Marine, and on his return home he had to face hostilities from those who were against the Vietnam War, so he decided to settle in the Southeast Asian.
There she met Lamai Sompornpairin, a young Thai woman whom she married. Frank started working for the United Nations Development Program, and together with his wife and daughter Tammy they moved several times to different Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Singapore or Cambodia, where Tammy lived the bombings of the Khmer Rouge at the take power in the country. When her father lost his job as a teenager, the family chose to return to the United States and settled in Honolulu, Hawaii. She had no trouble adjusting to the new life in America and she has always said that the multiculturalism that she lived through as a child has helped her to be more open-minded.
The Duckworth family went through times of economic crisis in which to eat she had to apply for food stamps. Tammy tried very hard and she finished her studies at President William McKinley High School with honors from her. Thanks to this, she obtained several scholarships and loans to be able to attend three universities, the one in Hawaii in Manoa, the one in George Washington where she did a master in International Affairs and the one in Northern Illinois where she carried out a doctorate in Political Science. Before joining the military in the footsteps of her father, she worked for Rotary International.
Already in the army, in love with camaraderie and companionship, she soon managed to rise to lieutenant colonel. In 2004, Duckworth was sent to the Iraq War as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot while joining the Illinois Armed National Guard. She disagreed with that war, but she accepted responsibility for it. On November 12 of that year, the helicopter she was piloting while returning with her team from picking up soldiers to Taji, north of Baghdad, was hit by a grenade that fell into Duckworth’s lap. She lost part of her right arm and both of her legs despite the fact that her companions helped her as quickly as possible. She saved her life from her, but she was left mutilated forever.
It took her 11 days to wake up and for the next twelve months, Lt. herself tried to recover at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. When she succeeded, she became director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, where she helped create a line of credit for companies that hired veterans, as well as a 24-hour hotline for her former colleagues in the military and different programs for help them to have access to housing and public health. She was awarded the Purple Heart.