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    Story by Cpl. Elliott Flood-Johnson 

    Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego   

    SAN DIEGO, Calif. – It’s rare to come across a new graduate of U.S. Marine Corps recruit training who has already experienced the chaos of war, but for one Marine in particular – this is exactly the case.
    Private First Class, Aimal Taraki, a former translator and Afghan National, who once worked closely with United States Marine Corps forces and other NATO allies in Afghanistan, graduated basic training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, April 7, 2023.
    According to Taraki, working with the U.S. military to combat insurgent forces such as the Taliban, inspired him to pursue his goal of one day becoming a U.S. Marine.
    "Growing up I was always interested in America and the western world, and was always very in tune with American culture," Taraki stated. "I applied for a translator job working with the troops because they were hiring local Afghan people. I worked with Marines and other NATO forces, which is what gave me the idea to move from Afghanistan."
    At a very young age, Taraki became very familiar with combat. He was born in 1994, during the height of a civil war, where he and his family fled from their home in Mazar -E- Sharif, Afghanistan to find a more peaceful life in Pakistan.
    "I was born in the middle of the [Afghan] civil war," Taraki said. "We left between the years of 1999 and 2000 after the Taliban took over for the first time."
    After spending approximately six years in Pakistan, Taraki and his family were able to move to Kabul, but still experienced the effects of a country embroiled in conflict.
    "There's a place called the Massoud Circle, which is right next to the U.S. Embassy," Taraki stated. "It was a perfect place for the Taliban to make an attack. They filled a car with explosives, and when they detonated it, I was sleeping. I remember waking up to the explosion and all of our windows were shattered even though we were several miles away."
    While the experience had a significant impact on Taraki, it was during his time in Pakistan, where he began to learn English and developed a skillset that would change the course of his life
    "They taught us everything in English. The alphabet, math, biology," Taraki stated. "The national language is Urdu, but they don't even start to teach you that until third or fourth grade which was very odd to me...that you would teach kids English before your own language."
    In 2018, after working with NATO forces for two years, Taraki was able to obtain a visa and join the rest of his family in America. When he first arrived in Sacramento, CA he thought about doing many things, but looked back fondly on his time working with the military and wanted to show his appreciation to the U.S. for allowing him to pursue a better life.
    "I had a lot of different things I wanted to do with my life after I moved to the U.S.," Taraki said. "I thought, 'Should I go to college? Start my own business?' I decided that I can do any job and have any career, but first I want to be a Marine. This way I can say thank you to the United States and the Marine Corps for helping me."
    After completing his time at MCRD San Diego and accomplishing a major milestone in his new life in the U.S., Taraki took a moment to share an important message, sharing a perspective from someone who has experienced both peace and conflict.
    "Coexist - That's what makes the world a better and more peaceful place," Taraki said. "If only we accepted each other - disregarding the differences we have - and started loving each other - we're all human beings. We all deserve to be treated the same."
    With each company of newly graduated Marines, there, are individuals who come from many walks of life, some from across the world, adding to the Corps’ a diverse family. It's an opportunity for those, like Taraki, who are looking to join, and become something larger than themselves.



    Date Taken: 04.06.2023
    Date Posted: 04.07.2023 15:05
    Story ID: 442165
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US

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