Balde’s journey to citizenship took patience, strength, and sacrifice. Balde was born in Guinea, a war-torn country in West Africa that has been in constant turmoil since gaining independence in 1958. For nearly 10 years, he and his two siblings lived with his grandmother and immediate relatives in Guinea until Al, who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1990, could build a better life for them.
“I joined because I wanted a sense of independence and a better life for myself,” said Justin, who recently re-enlisted for another four years in the Corps. “I wanted to experience new things and meet people from other states and nationalities. I wanted to travel the world. I never thought I would visit Hawaii or Australia, which I’ve already done during this deployment.”
“Like every other Marine on my team, he is mature beyond his years, and he was always looking forward to helping,” said Parker. “He had a strong bond with our interpreters … and I would bring him along sometimes to [meetings], and he could help fill me in on … the perception and mood amongst the ANA.”