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    Iowa Soldier cancels trip home to Liberia, responds to COVID-19

    Iowa Army National Guard Soldiers support Test Iowa at Kirkwood Community College

    Photo By Cpl. Samantha Hircock | Pvt. Lahun Umaru Lahun with the 294th Medical Company Area Support operates a lane at...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Samantha Hircock 

    135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    “It’s been since I came [to the United States] in 2016 that I have set eyes on my father and my family,” said Pvt. Lahun Umaru Lahun, a unit supply specialist with the 294th Medical Company Area Support, Iowa Army National Guard. “I was planning to go in December before this COVID-19, but of course travel is not an option now.”

    Lahun was born in Kiatahun, Liberia, where his parents and five siblings remain, but now he serves as an Iowa Soldier during one of the most pervasive pandemics of recent history.

    Among nearly 900 Soldiers and Airmen of the Iowa National Guard called to state active duty in order to assist with the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lahun and fellow Soldiers of the 294th MCAS helped operate a Test Iowa site at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on May 7.

    While he is able to connect with his family via social media and video calls, Lahun said that he was really looking forward to his long-awaited trip to see his family, but he said he is also proud to do his part for Iowa’s communities.

    “I’m glad to be helping, and I think this is an important precaution,” said Lahun. “Of course, I wanted to see my family, but I’m safe and they are safe and that is what we can hope for.”

    Lahun said that he came to the United States for opportunity and freedom, and is grateful for the ways in which he’s been able to support his family since being here.

    Before being activated with the National Guard during the pandemic, like many, Lahun faced weeks without employment when his employer was forced to close.

    “It was a little bit hard,” said Lahun. “Not knowing what will happen is a struggle, but--again--it’s important to take the precautions so I understand, and everything is okay for now.”

    Lahun is himself a student at Kirkwood Community College, studying cyber security.

    “I joined the Army in general for discipline, but also for education,” said Lahun. “I saw that there is demand [in cyber security] and how important it is, so my goals right now are to become a cyber security expert and to continue my military career.”

    Faced with even more time apart from his family and uncertainty during a momentous world effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Lahun is concentrating on the positives by focusing on his goals and the future.

    “Life has not been easy, but I praise God and everything right now is okay,” said Lahun. “I can just keep working and hope that the situation with [COVID-19] gets better soon so that I can see my family.”



    Date Taken: 05.07.2020
    Date Posted: 05.12.2020 14:07
    Story ID: 369742
    Location: CEDAR RAPIDS, IA, US 

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