Horn of Africa deployment home for Soldier

Story by Sgt. Jared Smith, HHB, 2/138th FA

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Pvt. 1st Class Ismaila Pam, a resident of Louisville, Ky., pauses from his duties as a supply specialist to grant an interview on his ties to Africa on Nov. 8, 2012. (Kentucky National Guard photo by Capt. Daniel VanHorn))

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Most Soldiers from the 2/138th Field Artillery Regiment have been born and raised in Kentucky. Others are from Indiana, Florida and New York. But one bright, young Soldier calls Africa his home.

Pfc. Ismaila Pam, an Automated Logistical Supply Specialist from the 2138th Forward Support Company (FSC) of Louisville, Ky., was born in Mauritania, Africa, and grew up in Senegal.

“Growing up in Africa was a good life.” said Pam, “Everyone in the area is your family, you own most everything that you have to include your home, and electric was very cheap.”

When asked how he ended up in the United States from such a far away continent, Pam said that his father lived in the United States for about 18 years. His father decided to stay in Louisville, Ky., because he had many friends in the area and he enjoyed the American lifestyle. He settled down and decided to bring his family to him from Africa.

By the young age of 18, Pam had already completed high school and two years of college in Senegal before moving to Kentucky. Although he could speak three languages, Wolof, Fulani and French and could read and write Arabic, he didn’t know English. Upon his arrival in Kentucky, he had to go back to high school to learn the language, which brought his total to four languages that he is able to speak.

Shortly after his arrival to Louisville, Pam started working in the same restaurant as his father as a bus boy. He recalls while on breaks he could see through the small window looking into the kitchen how hard his father worked to be able to provide for his family.

At that point Pam decided that he was going to find another job trade to be able to help his father so he decided to join the Kentucky National Guard which enabled him to get a steady paycheck as well as be close to home.

When asked how his family felt about him joining the military, he said his father is very proud of him and what he is doing although his mother isn’t too happy about it. She worries about his deployment. Pam stated that it doesn’t bother him and he wants to continue to serve because it is something that he loves dearly.

Pam has family who still reside in Africa, to include his Grandfather, Aunts, Uncles and even an older brother. If he gets the chance, he would love to be able to visit them while on his deployment.

With his unit in Africa, Pam is looking forward to all the possibilities that lie ahead.

“It’s very exciting, because we are going for peacekeeping and not war,” he said with a smile.

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