By Army Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt
Special to American Forces Press Service
Oct. 17, 2008 - A Multinational Division Baghdad soldier born and raised in Russia is scheduled to become a U.S. citizen in November. Army Spc. Eynar Ayupov, a personnel clerk with the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters Support Company, 404th Aviation Battalion, Combat Aviation Brigade, said he never thought he would become a citizen of the United States while growing up in Russia, much less a U.S. soldier deployed to Iraq.
"I never thought when I was a kid that I would be in the U.S. Army, but I'm really glad I joined," he said. "Being in the Army has been a great experience for me."
Ayupov grew up in Ufa, Russia, about 100 miles southeast of Moscow. The city, founded in 1574, boasts more than 1 million residents and is an industrial center for electrical and mining equipment, oil refining, petrochemicals, synthetic rubber and processed foods.
Ayupov came to the United States with his mother in 2004 when he was 16 years old to visit family friends in Youngstown, Ohio. After visiting for a while, his mother went back to Russia, but he decided to stay.
"I wanted to try new things and meet new people," he said. "The U.S. is a great country with a lot of opportunities for education and for employment. People in the U.S. seem to smile a lot, and I like that."
Ayupov joined the Army in November 2006. After basic combat training and advanced individual training, he was stationed with the 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas. He deployed here in June of this year.
Now that Ayupov has made the transition from being a Russian kid to a U.S. soldier fighting in the global war on terrorism, his next milestone is to become a U.S. citizen.
"I want to become a U.S. citizen so I can visit my mother back in Russia. I plan to try and visit her back in Russia when I go on leave," the 20-year-old soldier said. "Originally, I joined the Army because I wanted to see the world. I'm pretty proud of the work we are doing over here in Iraq."
Ayupov works in his unit's orderly room. "I feel my part of the mission is taking care of soldiers so they don't have to worry about their paperwork and they can do their job better," he said. His company commander agrees.
"Specialist Ayupov is a good kid and a hard worker," Army Capt. Scott Coleman said. "He is really reliable. He has really spread his wings since he has been here and done a great job."
Coleman said Ayupov has adjusted well from his old life to his new one. "Other than his last name and knowing his history, if I didn't know that, I couldn't tell him from any other soldier who is here," he said.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt serves in the 4th Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office.)