Coming to America: Airman becomes an American on Flag Day

  • Published
  • By Chris Farley
  • 934th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Mohamed Abdi, 934th Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical technician, took his oath of allegiance and became a U.S. citizen on Flag Day, June 14, 2023.

Abdi, along with 904 other people from 94 different countries, raised their right hand and pledged their allegiance to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

However, for the last 2½ years, Abdi has been defending and supporting America, and it happened when he first took his Oath of Enlistment in 2020 to join the Air Force Reserve and become an Airman in the 934th Airlift Wing.

In essence, Abdi answered his nation's call before America was his nation.

Abdi's story starts 8124 miles away in Kenya and as life can be difficult, he had a lot of hurdles to overcome before he got to America.

"Yes, it was definitely a long journey. But I appreciate every single obstacle, every single point in life that I had to go through and I'm glad to be here," said Abdi.

He came to the United States in 2018. He got his green card and letter of selective service. Leila Hassan, Abdi's mother, arrived around 2006-2007. Abdi and his siblings were raised by their relatives in Kenya until Hassan could make and save enough money to bring her family to America.

Shortly after arriving, Abdi had a strong ambition and desire to join the military. His purpose in joining wasn't about this potentially being an opportunity to quicken his citizenship. Instead, he was gracious for the opportunities America afforded him and his family that were unavailable in Kenya.

"So, one of the reasons I thank the U.S. is because I like to serve and give back what was given to us. It changed the trajectory of our whole lives." said Abdi.

After talking with other military services, he made his decision to become an Airman in the Air Force Reserve.

"I didn't join immediately. I joined in 2020 and the reason why I joined later was because I wanted to get Americanized, as much as I could, and learn American aspects," said Abdi.

One crucial facet he focused on was learning English. To do this, Abdi said he was encouraged by his mom to watch American television shows. He also watched western movies and listened to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. However, there was one television show in particular that helped him learn English and that was "The Jeffersons."

"It's an old school show but I did love it because, whenever they spoke, they [talked] slower. You know, back in the day, they spoke a little bit slower than anything else. So, it just like made it easy for me," said Abdi.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service has no strict dress code for the naturalization ceremony. However, the USCIS imparts to its applicants to wear attire that respects the dignity of the naturalization oath ceremony.

Abdi wore his Air Force issued Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform for his swearing in ceremony.

"This is probably one of the most honorable things to do in uniform, especially as a service member who has served almost 2 1/2 years now. I feel like it's my obligation to wear this uniform to this ceremony," said Abdi.

Abdi's family and his ASTS noncommissioned officer in charge joined him for this important event.

After swearing in, Abdi was finally an American. He was proud, but the overall sensation was surreal for him.

"I'm still buzzing right now. I'm still taking it all in. I couldn't help but have a tear in my eye when we said the Pledge of Allegiance," said Abdi.

"I'm overwhelmed with emotions right now. I'm so happy," said Hassan

"For [Hassan] to see the work that she put into all of this so that her children could come over here and become citizens, that was really neat. So, it was an honor being able to meet his family, being a part of his path to here now and seeing it," said Master Sgt. Amanda Evens, 934 ASTS lab NCOIC.

Abdi talked about how he accepted the responsibility of wearing the American flag on his uniform before becoming an American. His acceptance derived from reading American history and learning the heavy burden the flag has carried since the country's founding and every moment of American history.

"I can proudly say I will wear it proudly until I receive my folds of honor," said Abdi.

"The more diversity and culture we have, the stronger the Air Force will be," said Evens.