Iraqi fulfills dream of being U.S. Soldier
Spc. Mazin Mozan, a native of Iraq, graduates from Basic Combat Training today - one day after becoming an American citizen. Mozan worked as an interpreter for American troops before moving to the United States.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Spc. Mazin Mozan's path to becoming a Soldier is not your typical graduation story.

The Iraqi immigrant spent years assisting the U.S. military as an interpreter, faced threats and violence against his family and put himself in danger before deciding to pursue a special visa that would enable him to join the Army and become a U.S. citizen.

Mozan, 28, who learned English as a child in the Iraqi public school system, will graduate today with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.

"I've worn the ACU before as an interpreter, but now I will have the U.S. Army tag on it," Mozan said. "It will be a special feeling when I graduate. I have dreamed about this moment for a long time."

The Iraqi-American, who also studied English at Baghdad University, got his start as an interpreter when he stopped by a local military installation and applied. From there he was assigned to an Explosive Ordnance Detachment.

"We would go out to the border between Iraq and Iran looking for ordnance and blowing them up," he said. "I translated between Soldiers and villagers. I would tell them we were there for their safety."

Capt. Sean McEwen, TRADOC Future Operations, worked with Mozan while serving on a military transition team in the Wasit Province.

"He and his family were specifically targeted by the Jaysh Al-Mahdi because he was assisting the U.S. Army," McEwen said. "On an attack at his house that was suspected to be done by JAM, his brother was killed. Instead of quitting, Mozan took several days off to assist his family and then returned to work with the Army."

Later, when his MTT team relocated with its Iraqi unit to Baqubah, Iraq, Mozan volunteered to leave his family behind and continue his dangerous, yet vital, work as an interpreter. He continued to work until finally the JAM threatened to kill his entire family if he did not quit assisting the U.S. Army.

"Some people called me a traitor and hurt my family, but they were just the minority extremists," Mozan said. "I believed in what the U.S. Army was doing in Iraq."

In 2007, Mozan moved to the United States by himself with a special visa. He worked as a DoD contractor translating for the Marines and the 1st Calvary Division; however, Mozan was ready to fulfill his dream of becoming a Soldier.

"I should have joined a lot earlier," Mozan said Tuesday as he participated in graduation rehearsal. "I am proud to put on my beret."

Mozan will next go to Fort Lee for Advanced Individual Training as a 92A (automated logistics specialist).

"Spc. Mozan has been an ideal Soldier in training," said 1st Lt. William Willis, Company D commander. "He is always helping other Soldiers. He has excelled in BCT."

The Iraqi-American, who had his official swearing-in ceremony as a U.S. citizen on family day Wednesday, said he learned about the last combat troops pulling out of Iraq during the company's Victory Forge training exercise.

"There are more things to do in Afghanistan than Iraq," he said. "Having adviser units in Iraq will do more good than combat units because it is all about winning their hearts and minds."

Page last updated Thu August 26th, 2010 at 09:40