News: Kuwait-born Marine repays corps with service
Story by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
YUMA, Ariz. - Marines bring to the Corps a multitude of anecdotes, like hunting with Dad out in the woods or the usual fodder of drill instructor scares from boot camp. But how many can attest to watching Marines parade down the streets after Kuwait's liberation in the Persian Gulf War?
Lance Cpl. Abdullatif Alghanem, a Marine Attack Squadron 513 maintenance administration clerk and a native of Kuwait City, Kuwait, can.
"During the war, I remember the parade," said Alghanem, 24. "There was a big parade after the liberation. Marines drove by with tanks, and we were waving at them."
That sealed the deal for Alghanem's career trajectory.
Born in Kuwait City in 1987, to Korean-American and Kuwaiti parents, Alghanem's defining moment came less than four years later in 1991, the end of the war.
"I've always wanted to be a Marine," he said. Alghanem's decision can be considering far more personal than many Marines' reasoning to join.
"That's why I joined the Marines, so I could give back what they gave to me," he said.
Other factors contributed to his decision to immigrate to the United States.
Alghanem encountered problems as young child due to his heritage. He recalled other people would single him out for his mixed ethnicity.
"There's a lot of racism there (in Kuwait)," he said. "I was bullied as a kid. I wanted to be stronger, or test myself."
In 2005, the time period that many consider the height of the Iraq War, Alghanem took the first step that would lead him to Marine recruit training.
He moved to Tacoma, Wash., for the purpose of attending school and because he had family there. Originally intending to become an officer, he enrolled in college. However, he walked the path of enlisted Marine once he finished school.
Being bilingual, Alghanem selected linguistics as his occupational field. Due to security issues, this never came to fruition.
At that point, Alghanem had to make a tough decision.
"It was less than 30 days from the recruiter to ship out or wait two years," he said. "I wasn't going to wait two years, I wanted to do this now."
It's a mark of Alghanem's devotion to his career choice that he passed up a $35,000 signing bonus with the Army to stand on the yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego, Calif.
It's been almost seven years since Alghanem has seen his immediate family, and barely three months since he came aboard the station. Despite this, the Corps has already made an impression on Alghanem.
"I didn't see any racism," he said. "It's not like in the movies. Marines are very accepting, even though we were at war with people in that region."
It's early in Alghanem's enlistment, but he looks forward to the future and what it will bring. Until then, he runs as a hobby, another result of joining the Corps.