As the country celebrates Veterans Day, Miranda Troyer admits the time she spent in the U.S. Army shaped her life in many ways, personally and professionally.
Troyer met her husband, Daniel, during a 15-month deployment in Iraq. And she competed on Army culinary arts teams that refined her baking skills, enabling her to start her own business earlier this year.
“It’s actually going great,” Troyer said of the Miranda’s Cakes and Confections bakery she operates out of her home in Morton. “We opened in August and you know, the first couple weeks were just tremendously stressful just trying to keep up with everything and the struggles running a new business.
“We’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s just definitely a learning curve. I think we finally, kind of reached our groove.”
Troyer grew up in Pennsylvania and first developed an interest in baking during high school. She went on to study culinary arts, before a “spur of the moment” inspired her to enlist in 2006.
“It was just kind of on a whim that I went and just joined the Army,” she said. “It was just something in me; I give credit to Christ.”
Within a few months, Troyer was in Iraq serving as a cook and a driver.
“I cooked for thousands of soldiers a day,” she said. “It was called a combat outpost, kind of the south of Baghdad, and it was actually there when I met my husband. So I was cooking for his troops; it was me and I think two other cooks down there at the time. So we cooked for them whenever they would come out from missions and everything.”
Troyer said she also was the lead driver for convoys for three months. While she never saw combat, that fact doesn’t minimize her duty.
“We were right down there with them. I mean, we weren’t on the front line with them, but still in very dangerous areas making sure that they have food,” she said. “Pretty much all the cooks were also drivers for the convoy, so we were out there plenty. A lot of people don’t really think about that.
“You know, I’m very, very fortunate that I never actually had to live through anything that was terrible. But we do know soldiers that were killed, and it’s just really sad.”
She said she often thinks about her time in the service, and she appreciates the recognition military members receive.
“Every once in a while, I run across photo albums of the times there and the people that we lost,” she said. “It’s definitely something that needs to be in our hearts always – and especially on Veterans Day.”
As the Troyers raised their family while Daniel continued to serve in South Korea and Afghanistan, Miranda’s baking career got placed on a back burner for a while. But after moving to Morton in 2013 to be close to members of Daniel’s family, Miranda now has an industrial kitchen in what used to be the garage.
She said not having a normal storefront does strike some people as rather unusual.
“I think about that a lot. I’m thinking people will probably think we’re crazy,” she said. “But I mean, we get a lot of regular (customers), so many wonderful people. But some people are approaching, and just come up to someone’s house and think, ‘OK, well, I guess we’re going to go in the garage over here.’ You come in and boom, it’s a bakery! So it’s pretty awesome.”
While the business now takes up plenty of her time, Troyer knows her military background will always be a major part of her life.
“It was a pleasure and such an honor to be able to be in the Army,” she said. “You don’t think about it when you’re actually there, but then afterwards you think back and it’s like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I did that.’”
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