Former Russian paratrooper called to serve, enlists in U.S. Army
July 2, 2009
- Sand Hill executive officer LT Ruslan Emelyanov served as captain in Russian Army
- Emelyanov immigrated to U.S. and enlisted in U.S. Army after events of Sept. 11, 2001
- Emelyanov's first encounter with terrorism happened while serving in the Russian Army in Chechnya
- Emelyanov deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 with the 25th Infantry Division
FORT BENNING GA - When Ruslan Emelyanov left the Russian army after nine years of service, he never thought he would wear a military uniform again. As a former Russian paratrooper who fought with the 205th Infantry Brigade (Airborne) in Grozny, Chechnya, for 15 months, he told his family he was through with war, he wanted to see the world.
"I had an excruciating experience in (Chechnya)," he said. "We lost lots of Soldiers ... and I was still too young to see that."
After traveling across the European and Asian continents, Emelyanov visited his uncle who lived on the Californian coast in 2001.
"(Carmel) blew my mind," he said. "I instantly fell in love with the city and ... was amazed (by) was the respect. People respect each other here."
A few months after Emelyanov immigrated, the 2001 terrorist attack in New York reminded him of Chechnya, he said.
"My first encounter with terrorism was while serving as a platoon leader and scout company commander with the 205th during the war in Chechnya.
"In September, the U.S. had that tragic attack ... I saw young Soldiers joining the U.S. force, going to war and protecting their country," he said. "Having my background - my experience - it was a simple decision for me to join the Army."
Now Emelyanov, 36, wears the Army combat uniform as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
He is the executive officer for F Company, 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, on Sand Hill.
Emelyanov enlisted in February 2002 and completed one unit station training with the 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Regiment. Following a yearlong deployment in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, with the 25th Infantry Division, Emelyanov became a U.S. citizen. In 2007, he graduated from Officer Candidate School.
"Others can take away great life lessons, such as perseverance and hard work paying off, from a Soldier like him," said LTC David Tate, commander of 2nd Bn., 19th Inf. Regt. "He is truly living the American dream."
He has a wealth of valuable experience to share with new Infantry recruits, both in combat and in life, said 1SG Patrick Roberson, a 22-year veteran.
"He is one of the most loyal officers I've worked with," said the first sergeant of F Company, "and has been asset to the unit since he arrived."
"There's nothing unique about me. I'm just being a Soldier," Emelyanov said. "I'm just one of a couple million service members."