FORT CARSON, Colo. – Black History Month, also known as National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans and a time to recognize the positive impact they've had on the history of the United States. It is also a great opportunity to highlight Staff Sgt. "Amo" and all the African-American Soldiers who contribute to the strength of the Army.
Since childhood, newly-promoted Staff Sgt. Richard Amoateng, a supply noncommissioned officer in charge in 18th Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, has wanted to be a Soldier, but back then he couldn’t imagine it would be in the United States Army.
Growing up in Ghana, Amoateng, or “Amo,” as his fellow Soldiers call him, soon realized jobs were limited, and poverty was rampant in his native land. If one could get selected in the visa lottery to come to the U.S., it’s their ticket out of their plight. Amo got lucky and was selected, coming to the United States in 2012 at age 28. He then joined the Army in 2015 and gained his citizenship through military service.
His dreamed fulfilled, Amo, recently took time to sit down and talk about his roots, his coming to the U.S., and where he sees himself going forward.
Q: What was it like growing up in Western Africa?
A: I’m from the Ashanti Tribe in Ghana. They had an empire at one point fueled by the most gold in Africa. Some of my family background come from that industry. They were miners, but most of my immediate family are teachers. My mom was a teacher, my brothers are teachers, and my sisters are teachers. After primary school, I graduated from university with a graphic design degree, but jobs were hard to get in that field so I wanted to join the Ghana army. But just trying to get into the army you have to buy your way in and the screening process is long, so I got lucky to get selected in the visa lottery.
Q: Where did you first end up in the States?
A: The Bronx, New York City. I was very happy being in the Big Apple. Coming from Ghana, you think that money just grows on trees here, but you have to work very hard in order to be able to get what you want. I worked and was going to school at Bronx Community College while living with my cousin. Being in a country where you don’t know the culture was a little bit difficult, but having lived through hardship in Ghana I felt I would be able to survive just fine in America.
Q: What are some of the glaring differences between the U.S. and your home country?
A: There are a lot more jobs here. Like I said before, even joining the military there is very difficult because there just isn’t any work.
Q: You gained your U.S. citizenship through the Army. How does that feel to be a citizen of this country?
A: That was one of the main reasons I joined the Army. I feel very fortunate to have gained citizenship. I feel I am home and have been received very well here. Living here is far better than Ghana. In terms of stability and taking care of my family, it’s good.
Q: Describe your family?
A: I have a wife from Ghana that I brought over and a 16-month-old baby. The rest of my family is still in Ghana.
Q: So what is next?
A: I am going to do 20 years and retire. Maybe become a warrant officer in the near future. Right now I am enjoying my time in the command and taking in all the space-related themes and components surrounding it.