FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- When Ojumiri Mammah became a U.S. citizen in 2010 as part of a mass naturalization ceremony in Baghdad for servicemembers deployed to Iraq, the Army cook was thinking about his parents who still lived in west Africa's volatile Sierra Leone.

It would have been nice if they could have been at Fort Bragg Friday when he was promoted to sergeant -- a pivotal event in the career of an enlisted soldier -- but Mammah knew they were proud of their son, the American paratrooper and the Army's newest food service noncommissioned officer.

Mammah serves with the 307th Brigade Support Battalion, a diverse group of logisticians that supports the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.

His brigade commander, Col. Trevor Bredenkamp, said, "It doesn't matter where you are from, your color, creed, gender or rank. When you jump out of an airplane in the middle of the night in unfamiliar terrain, you have to be able to shoot, put your equipment into operation and move out to the assault objective. That drive, that ability to do more, is part of what makes a paratrooper. We are always looking for individuals like Sgt. Mammah with the drive and initiative to excel."

Mammah still calls his parents a couple times a week, he said. His father works in transportation. His mother is the principle of a middle school.

Someday perhaps they too will come to the United States, but in the meantime, Mammah will continue to advance his Army career. It's as much for them as for him, he said.

"This summer I want to become a jumpmaster, next year maybe a warrant officer," he said.

Before coming to the United States and enlisting in the Army, Mammah had never cooked, but in a short time, he found that he had a passion for it.

"The Army provides me what I need with a job that I love and good benefits," he said. "I love it."