THIÈS, Senegal – After joining the U.S. Army two years ago, Spc. Lassana Traore, food service specialist, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division never imagined he would find himself back in his native land of Senegal, Africa, nor in a role of a translator supporting the U.S. Army.
Staff Sgt. Murquitte Wingfield, food service noncommissioned officer in charge, Company E, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment said Traore’s a "Super Soldier" and is always motivated to do more than what is asked or expected of him.
"It is a great learning experience for him to be serving his native country and the U.S. Army," Wingfield said. "I think he will gain a lot of knowledge from interacting with both nations simultaneously during the exercise."
Traore grew-up in Pikine, a small city outside of Dakar, Senegal, with his parents, four brothers and three sisters. He graduated from Seydou Nourou Tall, a multi-grade school in 2000. Following an injury to his leg that stopped him from playing professional soccer, Traore decided to travel to France to attend college and study business management. He then traveled to Italy to help run his father's fishing company and it was there where he met his wife, who is also in the U.S. Army.
Traore joined the U.S. Army in 2012, and chose to be a cook in the Army because choices were limited for him at the time.
“I actually enjoy doing my job," Traore explained. "And now, I am happy to be here because I can serve both my countries at the same time."
Traore's duties during the exercise included being part of the food service team only, but things quickly changed when his unit hit the ground in Senegal. In addition to working in the dining facility, he performed translator duties for various African nations throughout Camp Thies.
The 32-year-old said one of his favorite parts of Western Accord 14 was helping the U.S. overcome language barriers between the different countries.
Traore said knowing he helped Soldiers better comprehend the training they received so they could apply it to what they already knew was what he enjoyed most about the experience.
Senegalese Army Infantry Parachutist Sgt. Birame Faye concurred.
"It is easier for us to understand Traore rather than civilian translators because he is in the U.S. Army and he knows how to explain their tactics better," said Faye.
Traore said he appreciated playing a major role in the WA14 exercise and wants to continue serving the U.S. in any way he can.
"I plan to retire out of the U.S. Army because it's a great organization and it provides people with great opportunities to do whatever they put their minds to," Traore said.