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    From Baghdad to Best Warrior

    Best Warrior

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Mark Otte | Hussein Khairi had served shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. service members since 2005...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Mark Otte 

    100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Hussein Khairi had served shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. service members since 2005 when he worked as a translator in his native country, Iraq. Now, he is standing toe-to-toe with them, competing for the title of the Texas Military Department's Best Warrior.

    The Texas Military Department’s Best Warrior Competition is a three-day contest that brings together members of the Texas Army National Guard, Air National Guard, and representatives from Texas’ State Partnership Programs to compete for the title of Best Warrior.

    "Some people who knew you worked for the Americans saw you as a traitor," Khairi said.  "The penalty for being a traitor in Iraq was death, and not just for you, but often your family as well."

    Khairi, born in Baghdad, met American service members for the first time in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After serving as a local interpreter for five years, Khairi received a Special Immigrant Visa through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which allowed those who helped American forces at war a path to U.S. citizenship.

    After immigrating to the U.S., Khairi again sought work with American forces and joined the Department of Defense as an interpreter, but this time as an American.

     In 2016, Khairi joined the Texas National Guard and now works full-time for the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force in supporting law enforcement.

    In both his full-time job and as a traditional Guardsman, Khairi brings the service invaluable skills that his leaders say come with his unique background.

    "Having a diverse force, from all kinds of backgrounds, is essential to building a strong and effective force," said Sgt. Maj. Jason Morrow, 71st Troop Command operations sergeant major.  "It's always inspiring to see someone, like Khairi, who takes risks to go after big opportunities and then really add to the organization when they get there."  

    To earn the title, Khairi, only in his third-year of enlistment, will have to endure a grueling three days that tests his physical fitness, agility, strength, endurance, and knowledge, along with the other service members.

    "I like to get outside my comfort zone," Khairi said.  "I like to take on new challenges. I'm always trying to improve myself."

    One of the more challenging events for Khairi, he predicted, would be the 12-mile road march.  The march started pre-dawn and required competitors to carry a 35-pound backpack without assistance.

    "One of my biggest strengths is that I never quit, I always keep trying," Khairi said.

    Although Khairi didn't cross the line first, he finished at a jog and in good spirits, saying he was just happy to be here, and given the opportunity to compete.

    "It has been an honor to make it this far," Khairi said. "Even if I don't win, I can go home proud of my accomplishment here."



    Date Taken: 03.02.2019
    Date Posted: 03.02.2019 16:57
    Story ID: 312632
    Location: US

    Web Views: 291
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