News: Big Red One soldier becomes US citizen during deployment to Afghanistan
Story by 1st Lt. Riley Owens
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Recently, a Duke Brigade soldier officially became a citizen of the nation he has sworn to support and defend during a naturalization ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
“It’s indescribable, in a good way,” said Pfc. Murphy Dangu Balsomi, an Infantryman attached to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, who is currently deployed with Combined Task Force (CTF) Centaur at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.
Balsomi was the only Soldier in Duke Brigade to become a United States citizen at the ceremony.
Balsomi came to the United States in March 2011, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He grew up in the country’s capital of Kinshasa, and viewed moving to the United States as a way to improve the lives of his family members.
After enlisting in the Army as an infantryman, Balsomi attended Army Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) before being assigned to Fort Knox.
Becoming a Soldier in the Army was a way for Balsomi to open doors to the many opportunities and benefits that the military can provide, he said.
Since enlisting, Balsomi has been able to improve his English – French being his native language – and says he is continuously learning new things, as now both a U.S. citizen and Army Soldier.
Balsomi deployed as a part of CTF Centaur to Afghanistan this past summer. Serving at FOB Spin Boldak, Balsomi has been working in several different roles as a member of Bravo Battery, 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt. These roles have included providing security at the FOB’s entry control point and as a Guardian Angel – a security detail for Soldiers conducting business off of the FOB.
“The Army has been a great experience,” says Balsomi. “Being deployed, I think, is best because you can see why training is so important and necessary.”
Balsomi said his family, including his wife, Nadia, and two children, Fabiola and Gabriel, was the motivating factor for him to seek citizenship. Now, as a U.S. citizen, Balsomi is currently working toward ensuring the rest of his family also attains citizenship.
Doctor S. Ken Yamashita, the Director of Program Coordination for the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Maj. Gen Paul J. LaCamera, Regional Command (South) and 4th Infantry Division Commanding General, were among those who spoke at the ceremony.
“We the people are one people,” said Dr. Yamashita. “We the people are all Americans. Congratulations (Pfc. Balsomi) - Welcome to the United States.”