Baghdad Native Becomes US Marine
By Lance Cpl. Jericho W. Crutcher
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | May 28, 2014
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego -- --
War, high cost of living and a desire for better opportunities are what led Pfc. Mohammed N. Yahya, Platoon 2154, Company G, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, and his mother to make the difficult choice to leave their home in Baghdad, Iraq, and find a new life in America.
Yahya was born and raised in Baghdad and was only 13-years-old during the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
In Iraq, homes were restricted to three television channels and the cost of living was extremely high. His mother received only three dollars a month for teaching English at a local school, however basic necessities such as fruit cost up to two dollars.
His mother taught him to speak English as a child, which enabled him to help the troops who patrolled through his town.
Yahya explained he jumped at opportunities to work as an interpreter for Marines because he knew they kept locals from harm’s way. He believes being local made it incredibly easy to gather information Marines needed and delineate between innocent locals and terrorist.
“I wanted to give back to the Marines because the Marines took care of me,” said Yahya.
His interactions with the Marines in Baghdad gave him a deep respect for service members and contributed to his decision to join the Corps.
His decision to enlist was cemented when step-father, married a former Marine drill instructor, supported his choice.
“I knew once I came to America I was going to become a Marine,” said Yahya.
Looking back, Yahya explained there are similarities between his hometown and recruit training.
“In school, we were not allowed to speak unless spoken to, we were told what we could and couldn’t eat and we weren’t allowed to laugh,” said Yahya.
Regardless of similarities or differences, his senior drill instructor believed he came into training with the right attitude. So far Yahya has tested to be certified in four different languages.
“He’s endured a lot in his teenage years, and he came to recruit training with a mindset to do great things,” said SSgt. Gunnar K. Belton, senior drill instructor. “The sky is the limit for him.”
Yahya wants to be a part of explosive ordnance disposal and help locate and disarm improvised explosive devices. He believes his experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom can be very effective toward locating these hidden deterrents, devices.
With his goal of becoming a Marine accomplished, he can now work toward his new goal of working with EOD. However, in his immediate future, the only thing he is looking forward to is seeing his mother at graduation.
“My decision to join the Marine Corps is the best decision I have made, and I know my mother is going to be excited to see me graduate,” said Yahya. “I’m looking forward to being an infantryman and fighting alongside Marines.”