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02-01-03, 11:26 AM #1
Once was Lost, but Never Forgotten
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Just one short year after the fall of the Taliban command over Afghanistan, Marines are still serving for Operation Enduring Freedom. For many of them, this is their second tour in the war-torn country. For one particular Marine of Task Force Kabul, it is a reunion with his homeland.
Lance Cpl. Abdul R. Madjid, a translator for the task force is proud to be part of the team defending America's freedom and fighting back for Afghanistan's rights.
While stateside in Camp Pendleton, Calif., Madjid serves as a gunner with 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was brought out to the United States Embassy, here, to aid the headquarters platoon with translating.
"It was kind of funny how I became a translator for the task force," said Madjid. "I was just browsing on the web one day and I saw a site where translators were needed.
"There were eight languages listed and Dari happened to be one of them," he continued. "So I filled out an application, not knowing that it was a Marine site. It's kind of funny, I ended up giving myself a job within my existing one."
Madjid has been working for the task force for over a month and has been received by everyone as a great interpreter. Madjid helps the task force tremendously by assisting many of the headquarters Marines.
"My main mission out here is to assist all Marines with communication," he said. "Some of the things I work on quite often are being the translator for supply transactions such as, buying lumber, purchasing gas and making other purchases."
Although he was born in Silver Spring, Md., Madjid spent many of his childhood years in Afghanistan. To understand his fight for his American freedom, we have to follow him throughout the years.
His mother and father moved to America shortly after the breakout of the Russian-Afghanistan War in late 1979, leaving their beverage distributing company. They couldn't fly directly to America, so they along with hundreds of others walked for days in the dusty, mine-infested, rugged mountainous terrain, until they got to the Pakistan border. When they finally reached Pakistan, they celebrated with a prayer. They were finally able to escape to America and try for their chance at the "American Dream."
Just three years later, Madjid was born to his happy parents. But they knew they wanted to return home and try to keep their business. In the early years, his father headed back to the country and continued progressing with a growing business.
Only to his father's dismay, his country was falling apart around him. In 1986, the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan. Soon after, the civil war between Mujahadins (Freedom Fighters) and the Communist Government began.
By 1990, Madjid's family was reunited in Afghanistan. The civil war was still going strong, but the society attempted to go on with their lives. Everyday, there was destruction and chaos among them, but the people fought vigorously to continue a semi-normal existence.
Madjid recalled a moment of his childhood days living through the war-torn world he called home.
"One time my brother and I were sitting in front of my parents' business, just playing, ignoring the sounds of gunshots and explosions in the background," he said. "Suddenly, I saw a smoking flash hit a man's leg. Later on in life, I learned it was an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade). The man worked for my parents.
"People ran to his aid," he continued, "while another worker ran to my brother and I, taking us away from the incident."
He said it wasn't uncommon to see these types of things happen on a day-to-day basis. That is one of the reasons why Madjid's mother took them away shortly after.
"During these times, the Freedom Fighters, were looking for soldiers all of the time," said Madjid. "They kidnapped children and this made my mother really scared. It wasn't a surprise to see a 12-year old holding an AK-47 at the side of the road."
Madjid said his mother decided it was time to escape for good until their motherland went back to a civilized world.
"My mother was afraid my brother and I were going to be kidnapped," he said. "So she sent us to a boarding school in Germany."
By this time in his life, he was a master of two languages, English and Afghanistan's native tongue, Dari. While they were away at school, their father fell sick and passed away. This was the new beginning of Madjid, his mother, Surraya and his older brother, Abdullah.
"At the time my father passed away, the civil war in Afghanistan was still growing strong, so my mother, brother and I moved to the states," said Madjid.
He said he was instantly in love with America and her freedom.
"I felt great living in America again," he said. "It's better to live free and safe rather than where people had to worry about kidnappings and murders everyday. A place where no rights or privileges existed."
Madjid said the freedom of the states called to him and his pride swelled everyday. He was so proud to be called an American. He continued his education and graduated from Watkins Mills High School in 2000 in Gaithersburg, Md.
Madjid enlisted in the Marine Corps in March 2001. He said he was ready to fight for the country that brought him so much freedom. Just half a year later, the terrorist attacks occurred in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
"I couldn't believe a country who has brought so much freedom to their people had to witness such horrible attacks," said Madjid. "And because of the jealousy of terrorist people like Taliban and al-Qaeda, our freedom was shattered."
Madjid said this was just one more reason to be proud of his decision of becoming a Marine.
"It's great to be a Marine," said Madjid. "It gives me a chance to fight for American freedom and against the people who ruined my country."
He added it gives him the chance to be part of the process of rebuilding Afghanistan.
"America is doing so much for Afghanistan," he said. "I can see it with my own eyes, because I am here. It seems like they're building schools and hospitals everyday. Everyone who had escaped is returning and is working on their way toward the beginning of their new lives.
"I feel great to be participating in Operation Enduring Freedom," he continued. "I know I am fighting for a good reason. Helping many of my fellow Afghans and their society."
This may be his first tour in Afghanistan as a Marine, but Madjid has seen it through different eyes. He said he is glad for this opportunity to return home and become part of America's Freedom Fighting Force at the same time.
He finished with some wishes.
"I look at the city of Kabul and the countryside and I think of years back," said Madjid. "I see all of the destruction and it makes me sad. I know it was once beautiful and I hope one day, with the help of nations like America, it will be beautiful again."
Through the years, Madjid said he has grown closer to America's way of life but will never forget his historical background. His father fighting so hard to support his family, and his voyage around the world to a new found word, freedom. He said hopefully someday, total independence will be established here and he can call both places home sweet home.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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