CAMP KUNDUZ, Afghanistan -- Spc. Ridong Ouyang, a unit supply specialist assigned to Headquarters Company, Task Force Guns, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, from Nashville, Tenn., poses in front of an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter hours before receiving his battlefield promotion Aug. 1. Ouyang left his native land of China five years ago and was recently sworn in as an American citizen here in Afghanistan.

CAMP KUNDUZ, Afghanistan -- Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: three rights that have inspired millions of immigrants over time to make the journey to the United States.
Five years ago, Spc. Ridong Ouyang made that same journey, leaving his native China with this family in search of new opportunities in a new land.

The journey did not come without bumps in the road.

Settling down in Nashville, Tenn., adjusting to a different culture and learning a different language proved to be challenging at first, said Ouyang, a unit supply specialist assigned to Headquarters Company, Task Force Guns, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

Ouyang's quiet demeanor made it difficult to make good grades in school and make new friends as well, he added.

Sooner rather than later, Ouyang achieved academic success in school and established new friendships. After a short stint in college, Ouyang decided to join the United States Army.

Not too long after enlisting, Ouyang began the naturalization process; a process that can be complicated at times, as he would soon find out.

After initially filing all of the required paperwork, Ouyang's case had somehow been dropped from the system, and he was forced to start all over again. More paper work and numerous phone calls followed, and with help from his leadership, Ouyang was able to re-initiate and expedite the naturalization process.

Shortly after deploying to Afghanistan, a country that ironically borders his native land of China, Ouyang found out that his perseverance had paid off. He would indeed become an American citizen.

Ouyang then made his way to Camp Phoenix near Kabul and was sworn in as an American citizen on what many consider to be the most patriotic of all holidays, Independence Day.

Describing his emotions following the ceremony, Ouyang said that he felt a sense of accomplishment more than anything else.

"It [naturalization] was my goal for a long time," added Ouyang.

"He was so excited to finally become an American citizen," said 2nd Lt. Samson Adeyemi, Ouyang's officer in charge, assigned to Headquarters Co., TF Guns, from Westbury, N.Y.

Adeyemi was born in Nigeria, and like his subordinate, managed to make his way to the United States and become an American citizen.

Ouyang, talking about what made the culmination of his journey possible, mentioned his parents back in Nashville and the hardships they had to endure, a fact that he said he will never forget.

"They worked hard because they wanted me to be successful in life," said Ouyang.

Likewise, hard worker is a term Ouyang's leadership uses to describe him.

"He goes out of his way to accomplish any mission," said Cpl. Moises Ramos, from Fresno, Calif., a unit supply specialist, assigned to Headquarters Co., TF Guns.

Adeyemi added, "Ouyang takes initiative and does his job without anyone telling him to do so."

The stern work ethic and penchant for taking initiative has paid off for the young trooper, as he was one of the few Soldiers in the brigade to be selected for a battlefield promotion Aug 1.

Finally, the story of Spc. Ridong Ouyang is one that plays out on a daily basis across the United States Army. It's a story about how a Soldier manages to overcome adversity and achieve his or her goals in life.

Page last updated Mon August 8th, 2011 at 11:37