Since the U.S.-led war againt terrorism began in 2002, scores of young Lao-Americans and Hmong-Americans have served with the U.S. armed forces in Iraq. Some have come back safely; some have sacrificed their lives; others have been severely wounded. Still a number is currently serving in Iraq. One of them is 35-year old Sergeant Moua Yang, who is a member of a military police unit stationed in Baghdad.
In this part 1 of an exclusive interview, Sergeant Moua Yang talks to VOA by telephone from Camp Victory in Baghdad, about his duties and responsibilities, and why he joined the California National Guards.
Moua Yang came to the U.S. with his parents, two brothers and one sister in 1980, when he was 9 years old. The family resettled in Iowa for a couple of years before moving to California to be closer to relatives. He studied at Sacramento State University, where he received his teaching credentials.
Moua Yang had been teaching for 12 years when he decided to join the California National Guards three years ago.
He said 9/11 was indeed a factor in his decision, saying," I wanted to do something different, something that I could be helping out for our Californians, guarding our borders, helping people during natural disasters, and so on,,"
Sergeant Moua Yang got to do something really different when his unit was deployed to Iraq. After four months of additional training in Fort Hood, Texas, his unit arrived in October 2005, and stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad. He said his unit trains and works closely with Iraqi security forces:
"Our unit's job is to make sure that we work with the Iraqi police force and officials so that they can get proper training and to become effective law enforcement officers, so that they can be a force, so that they can stop the terrorists before they can do anymore damages."
Listen to our Lao Diaspora report for further details.