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Face of Defense: Nigeria Native Serves in Missouri Guard

By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri National Guard

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Feb. 28, 2012 – The unique journey of a new Missouri National Guard recruit began more than 6,500 miles away.

Army Pvt. Precious Abraham spent his first 22 years in Nigeria before coming to America. In 2010, he and his family left Africa and the only life they knew in search of a better future.

“For me, to be an American citizen, it is a very great thing I have achieved,” Abraham said. “Everywhere I go in the world, I know that I’m proud to be an American citizen. America is the best country, unlike my country, where there is corruption and illegality down there.

“In the United States everything is so organized,” he continued. “I love to be a citizen of a country that is good.”

Abraham came to Missouri to study nursing at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, where he met and married his wife, Margaret. She is from Sierra Leone, about 1,400 miles from his home country. She is on track to graduate with a biology degree this spring.

The huge transition did not come without sacrifice. Abraham had to give up his Nigerian citizenship, but he said he does not regret the trade-off.

“Most people in Africa want the best,” he said. “The United States is the best -- best in education, best in everything. I came to the United States for the best.”

Once he arrived in Missouri, Abraham began to consider what opportunities awaited him in the National Guard.

“I discussed joining with my parents, and they approved of it because I told them all of the benefits, like paying for my school tuition,” Abraham said. “They believed in what I wanted to do.”

Serving in the military always had interested him, Abraham said, but he never had the right guidance to follow through with it.

“When I was young, I was always passionate about joining the force,” he said. “I had nobody to encourage me or to push me through. When I came to the United States, the encouragement and the support was there. I was like, ‘Wow, this is a great opportunity for me to go ahead and join.’”

Abraham’s recruiter, Army Sgt. 1st Class Jim Neighbors, met him through a referral. Neighbors said he was impressed with the bright young man and his eagerness to serve. Once his training is complete, Abraham will be a cannon crewmember with Battery D, 1-129th Field Artillery, in Independence, Mo.

“He’s really amazed at how together our country is — how organized the United States is and how cool it is,” Neighbors said. “He loves it here and wants to be a part of it. He has a different perspective on this than a lot of people. Delta Battery is excited to have him.”

Abraham may have more obstacles before him at basic training than most recruits, Neighbors said, but he added he is confident he will do well. He noted that Abraham grew up bilingual and always has spoken English, so language should not be a barrier.

“I think the cultural differences will probably be the biggest hurdle,” Neighbors said.

Abraham said his decision to serve as a citizen-soldier wasn’t just for practical reasons. He also wants to give back to the country that is doing so much for him.

“When I enlisted, I was very happy,” he said. “I’m happy I’m supporting the U.S. government. It brings great joy to me.”

He also looks forward to casting his ballot as a new citizen — one of the liberties he now defends for all Americans.

“I will be very happy for me to vote,” he said. “I’ll be very, very happy.”

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