The Public Affairs Office of the Army’s 25th Infantry Division recently told the story of one of their soldiers, an Iraqi-American, who deployed to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terror.
Specialist Jotyar K. Tile, now in his mid-thirties, left northern Iraq with his family eighteen years ago after being subjected to the constant terror of the Saddam Hussein regime. Specialist Tile was quoted in a 25th Infantry Division public affairs article as saying, “If we had stayed one more day we would not have made it out alive; they were using chemicals against us and destroying our villages.”
He went on to say that he and his family had suffered under Saddam’s campaign against the Kurds for years: “My father was a hard-headed and proud Kurd and did not want to leave our home. We were the last family to leave Qumri.”
Specialist Tile also recounted one of the methods used by Saddam to indoctrinate Iraqi youth. He is quoted as saying, “I remember every Friday we had to dress up and wear army clothes to school and march around and raise the flag and act like soldiers. Saddam demanded we do this from about age 5 and up.”
According to the 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, Specialist Tile, his parents, five sisters and seven brothers fled the Kurdish region in northern Iraq and ended up at a refugee camp in neighboring Turkey. Tile is reported as saying that the living conditions in the camp were appalling, with approximately 16,000 refugees living in tents in just a four to five square mile area.
When given the opportunity to go to the United States, Specialist Tile took it. His parents and siblings, however, declined and returned to Iraq in 1992. After learning English, he joined the Army through a special program that let native language speakers serve as interpreters. According to Tile, “Since then I have also recruited two others.”
Once he completed basic training and advanced individual training, Specialist Tile was sent to a unit deploying to Afghanistan. With some help from his command, he was transferred to a unit that was deployed to Iraq. Since returning to his homeland, Specialist Tile has been in contact with his family, who are only about an hour away.
The article concluded with a final quote from Tile: “The U.S. did a lot for my people and this is only a little bit that I can give back.”
Information for this article was obtained from “Iraqi American Soldier Serves Proudly,” by Major Juanita Chang, 25th Infantry Division TAC PAO.