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How did you end up in the U.S. Army? I came to the States in 1990 and went to community college. It didn’t work out well and I found myself withdrawing from classes and getting caught up in a crazy social scene with a lot of heavy drinking. I felt like I needed to change my lifestyle. Then I saw the advertisements on television that said “Be all that you can be” and it looked real interesting.

How’s Sierra Leone compared to the States?

It’s night and day. In Sierra Leone if your folks weren’t influential or you had family members overseas you got locked into a system where your parents’ social stature dictated your future.

Are you part of an African tribe?

I’m descended from resettled slaves from Nova Scotia called Creoles. They are a minority back in Sierra Leone now.

What kind of animals are there in Sierra Leone?

There are a whole bunch of exotic animals but I grew up on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital. Where I got to see all the wild animals that supposedly Africa has was on vacation at the London Zoo. But there were boa constrictors where I lived.

Did you ever have to fight a boa constrictor?

The closest I got was driving home one night and there was one lying the full width of the street with its head on one side and its tail on the other.

Do you have any things to remind you of home that you brought to Iraq?

I have a couple of pictures that I carry around of the beach. It’s called Lumley Beach. It is my motivation for R and R.

Do you plan to go to Sierra Leone on your midtour leave? What is the best holiday spot in Sierra Leone?

Yes, that’s one of my plans. I spend most of my days at the beach. There is a whole bunch of beach bars and restaurants and you can fish on the waterfront. (Night) Clubbing is also awesome there.

There was a civil war there. Has that affected your family?

My mother was in England. My dad stayed there for that start of it but went to England when things intensified and rode it out there. The war’s pretty much over now.

Does Sierra Leone have the same sort of facilities such as shops, supermarkets and malls, etc., that America has?

There are more things here (in Iraq) as far as amenities than there are in Sierra Leone. They have eight to 12 hours of electricity here and water is being restored. Last Christmas when I went home we had government-fed electricity on two occasions for three to four hours. I still see abject poverty there. I ask my father all the time whether people think things are stable and (whether) it is better, but it is not.

Christian SmithAge: 36

Title: Title: Native of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Day job:1st Lieutenant, 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment in Baghdad)

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