Support our mission
 

KIRKUK, Iraq — Much of Qasim Dosky’s adult life in northern Iraq was spent fighting, he said. He battled against the regime of former president Saddam Hussein and, as a result, he also fought to stay alive.

Dosky was a part of the Kurdish band of fighters, known as peshmerga, who defied Saddam Hussein from their enclave in northern Iraq. In his life, Dosky, 49, has been a soldier, an exile, a mechanic, a cab driver, and now — four years after the beginning of another war in his country — a translator for American forces in Kirkuk.

He is about to add one more distinction to his biography. In the upcoming days, Dosky, known by the nickname KC, is slated to become an American citizen.

“I am so excited,” he said. “My phone has not stopped ringing.”

Dosky and his family were among the thousands of pro-U.S. Kurds who were evacuated from northern Iraq in the mid-1990s when American forces pulled out. The Iraqi government had warned that anyone who had worked with the Americans would be hunted, Dosky said.

“I was one of the lucky families that got out,” he recalled.

The transition was not easy, he remembered. The traveling community of Kurds first settled in Guam for several months in preparation for their arrival in the U.S.

“I was scared, I had mixed feelings,” he said of going to a foreign country.

He said the move allowed him for the first time in many years to sleep soundly and undisturbed through a whole night and without the need of a pistol underneath his pillow.

“At the same time,” he said, “it was a new world for me and my English was not that good. I had all these questions, how am I going to provide for my family? Where are we going to live?”

To pass the time in Guam, Dosky began translating for the administrators at the camp.

“I wasn’t paid but it gave me something to do. I couldn’t get enough of working.”

When it was time to leave, Dosky was asked where he wanted to go.

“I didn’t know anything about the United States,” he said, and left the decision in the hands of administrators.

That’s how he ended up in Lincoln, Neb., he said.

“I had no idea where Nebraska was,” Dosky says, laughing. “I asked them if it was still in the United States.”

He grew to like the city but eventually moved to San Diego, where he worked as a pest exterminator before getting behind the wheel of a cab. He was in Southern California when the current war in Iraq began. Dosky welcomed the news.

“I was so happy. The [U.S.] government finally decided to do the right thing that they should have done in 1991,” he said.

Dosky gathered members of the Kurdish community and staged marches in support of American troops. He gave free cab rides to servicemembers. But he wanted to do more.

He applied to become a translator and in 2004 found himself in the thick of the action in Fallujah, working with Marines.

“It was hard. There were a lot of combat missions,” he said.

He returned to San Diego, exhausted by the experience.

“I had a lot of trouble sleeping,” he said. He returned to Iraq after accepting a position to translate in the relative calm of Kirkuk.

“If an American guy is willing to come to die in my country, I should be there next to him,” Dosky said of his return.

Now with American citizenship on the horizon, Dosky hopes to continue to work with the military.

“I’ll be more of a help to the troops now. I’m staying here until the end, until we finish this mission,” he said.

Migrated

stars and stripes videos


around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up