While many U.S. servicemembers view a deployment to Iraq as a long separation from their family, Cpl. Yousef A. Badou sees it as a chance to visit his family who live in Kuwait near a U.S. military base.
Badou was born in Qurain, Kuwait, which he describes as the "Beverly Hills of the Middle East." He said he lived there happily until the Iraqi invasion in 1991 when he and his family left for America, and it was there he found his calling in life.
"There were a lot of military members during that time, but the Marines seemed to stand out among the others," the 22-year-old said. "When I was in the Boy Scouts, a lot of my troop leaders were Marine infantrymen and I knew that’s what I wanted to be too."
Badou attended an American school in Kuwait and visited his mother’s family in America during summers, so when he moved there permanently, he adjusted to Western Civilization easily.
He attended the Michigan Military Academy and graduated from Portage Central High School in 2002 before joining the Marine Corps and becoming a scout, a job that he describes as a cross between a regular infantryman and a reconnaissance Marine.
His native language of Gulf Arabic played a huge part in enabling him to deploy and it has helped him accomplish many things that others without his language proficiency would not be able to do.
"During an early OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) deployment, I was guarding a bridge in Tikrit and it was only one lane," he said. "Sometimes people with emergency needs would have to pass and the language barrier would often add stress to an already tense situation. Once I had to direct traffic so that a pregnant woman could get to a nearby hospital. That was a great feeling knowing that I made the situation better."
His language skills have enabled him to work with many aspects of the military, such as civil affairs, border patrols, Iraqi soldiers, reconnaissance squads and detainees. His ability to speak the Arabic language has even helped him in combat situations.
"In another deployment in support of OIF, Sgt. Bryan Seibert and I were on patrol near the Syrian border near Al Qa’im when we noticed some suspicious men and I was able to trick them into thinking we were locals by speaking with them,"
Badou said smiling coyly. "We got closer to them and we were able to capture them even though it was two against eight."
Eventually he learned to recognize the area and the border patrol members, which played to his advantage when he was engaged in a firefight.
"Sgt. Seibert and I were attacking Syrian smugglers when the border patrol approached," Badou remembered. "I yelled and told who we were and they remembered me. Then I told them which direction the insurgents were. They could’ve fired on us thinking it was a smuggler posing as a servicemember."
Badou, now deployed a third time, is working with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance as a member of the commanding officer’s personal security jump team.
He said he knows his job as a scout and his Arabic language skills make him a force multiplier.
He plans to take his rest and relaxation period in the same place he usually takes it… at home in Kuwait.
"This is a big plus for me, essentially defending both of my homes and getting a free trip to visit my parents and siblings in Qurain," Badou said smiling. "Then at the end of this deployment I will see them before I go back to my other safely defended home in America."
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ken Melton
2nd Marine Division