CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – For many military members, a deployment means an opportunity to visit a foreign land. But for Spc. Abraham Kiplagat, an infantryman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, deployed with Task Force Bayonet to the Horn of Africa, it is a chance to return to the native region of his ancestors.Task Force Bayonet, an element comprised of National Guard Soldiers from Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa, is spread out across East Africa. The primary mission of the task force is to provide base security, port security and a quick reaction force throughout the region in a joint working environment with other U.S. and foreign service branches.Kiplagat said being back in the Horn of Africa is a great feeling, and he is enjoying training with the Djiboutian Armed Forces and the local nationals working on post.“I enjoy working alongside the local KBR personnel and building a connection and friendship with them,” he said. “I get to work with them every time I am on shift.”Kiplagat is participating in the French Desert Commando Course for the second time, training alongside the Djiboutian Armed Forces in a field environment hosted by the French Forces of Djibouti. Soldiers are put to the test through intense physical challenges while also learning basic survival skills such as primitive cooking methods. During the first course Kiplagat attended, he worked primarily with the French.“Working with the French forces of Djibouti was an amazing experience,” he said. “I got to see how their Soldiers are brave, well-trained and in fantastic shape. Working with them was one of the highlights of my career.”For Kiplagat’s family, service to country and community is a long-standing tradition. His father was in the police force and worked for the Municipal Council of Eldoret in Kenya. His grandfather was in law enforcement in Kenya. One of his aunts is serving in the Kenyan Defense Forces. Another uncle works with the Criminal Investigations Department, and a granduncle served in law enforcement in Kenya.His decision to serve in the U.S. military came as no surprise to Kiplagat’s family, and they remain supportive and encouraging of his decision. His uncle, Luka Rotich, from Kitale, Kenya, said he and the rest of Kiplagat’s family couldn’t be prouder.“I am so proud of him for joining the Army,” Rotich said. “It takes a lot of courage and dedication to do so. I want him to know that he is appreciated, admired and amazing. I like that he has come back to the Horn of Africa, so close to home.”Before deploying, Kiplagat was studying to be an auto mechanic at Des Moines Community College in Iowa. He will only have three semesters left to finish when he returns.“I love the idea of thinking big and chasing that American dream,” he said. “Dirty hands and clean money. Also, being a part of a melting pot because everyone is from different backgrounds and cultures, and it’s filled with various beliefs, values and traditions.”Kiplagat said there is one thing he truly misses about life in Kenya.“I miss the farming,” he said. “My whole family basically farms in Kenya, and it’s a way of life.”Although they are not running a farming operation in the states, Kiplagat’s family continues the tradition of growing their food and sharing with the community at their home in Des Moines.“We have a community garden back home and we also have a huge garden in our backyard,” he said. “We grow all of our vegetables and are able to live off them year-round.”Kiplagat said he is happy his family came to the United States.“It opened up many doors for the whole family,” he said. "We were able to start a new life, receive a better education, great career opportunities, and I have a chance to serve in the strongest military in the world.”For more National Guard newsNational Guard FacebookNational Guard Twitter