Marine, Ghana native, serves with pride

Marine, Ghana native, serves with pride

LCpl Andrews K. Nsenkyire provides assistance for Marines as an administrative specialist at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point's Installation Personnel Administration Center. Nsenkyire recently earned the title of station Marine of the Quarter and will soon compete for Marine Corps Installations East Marine of the Quarter. Nsenkyire is a native of Ghana who enlisted in the Marine Corps after winning a national immigration visa lottery in his home country before emigrating to the U.S. in May 2012. Photo by LCpl Joshua Heins.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (March 20, 2014) – In the United States, winning the lottery means winning a pile of cash. In Ghana, West Africa, the lottery means a new life, a U.S. visa, and for one Marine, a chance to serve.

LCpl Andrews K. Nsenkyire, an administrative specialist with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point's Installation Personnel Administration Center, was living in Ghana when he found out he had won a national visa lottery.

Nsenkyire was one of the 5,832 applicants from Ghana, a country of more than 24 million citizens, who won the opportunity to apply for an immigration visa in 2012.

"One day, when I was in high school, a teacher came into class and passed out some forms telling us to fill them out," Nsenkyire explained. "I did not know what the forms were for, and to be honest, I had completely forgotten about it." 

Nsenkyire went on with his life, with no explanation about the paperwork and no clue his life was about to change forever. Months later, Nsenkyire's teacher, the same who encouraged him to complete the visa forms, gave Nsenkyire the news. He had won the national lottery. 

"I was happy for the chance to apply for a visa," he said. "I had to go to the U.S. Embassy three times for interviews, to take picture and fill out forms."

Money was tight so Nsenkyire sold most of his personal belongings, including his computer, television and motorcycle, to fund the visa process and travel expenses. With a little help from his visa sponsor, he was on a flight to the U.S. in May 2012. 

"I didn't come from a rich family," he said. "But I always wanted to join the military to protect people who can't defend themselves."

Nsenkyire attempted to join the Army in Ghana but was not accepted. Driven by his desire to serve and aided by his new life in the U.S., Nsenkyire found the closest recruiting office in Alexandria, Va.

Nsenkyire walked into an Armed Forces Recruiting office for the first time in June of 2012 where he began exploring his opportunities as a Marine, almost by chance, he said.

"Once I walked in the office, the first person I saw was a Marine," he said. "I told him I wanted to join the Army and his response was, 'No, you don't!' Then he explained to me how good I would be as a Marine."

That was the first time Nsenkyire had ever heard of the Marines because they do not have a Marine Corps in Ghana. He made his decision after he asked his brother about the Marines and he learned they are considered the best fighting force in the world.

Two months after arriving in the U.S., Nsenkyire began the enlistment process, which took about five-months. He joined the Delayed Entry Program with Recruiting Station Frederick, Md. Nsenkyire could not wait to depart for boot camp after joining.

"I was supposed to leave on April 8, 2013," said Nsenkyire. "I was always talking to my recruiter, Sgt William Howard – I wanted to go early. One day he called me and said he had room in his schedule and I that I would be shipping out in January."

After graduating from recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., Nsenkyire completed Marine Combat Training at Camp Geiger, N.C. and Military Occupational Specialty school at Camp Johnson, N.C.

Nsenkyire arrived at Cherry Point in the summer of 2013 and quickly gained a reputation for professionalism and reliability. As a personnel clerk at IPAC's quality control department, Nsenkyire earned a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal in November 2013. He recently earned the recognition of Air Station Marine of the Quarter, and plans to continue his track record of success, on and off duty. 

"I help solve people's problems," Nsenkyire said. "I make sure I do my job perfectly because I'm one of the only people on base who can help with pay issues, so I need to pay attention to every detail."

Nsenkyire will soon compete for Marine Corps Installations East's Marine of the Quarter and hopes to join the noncommissioned officer ranks in the next year.

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