By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri National Guard
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (4/16/12) – Army Pvt. Paul Baiywo has only been in the United States for about five years, but this Kenyan native has made the decision to serve in the Missouri Army National Guard as a means to give back to his new nation.
Baiywo, who is making his home in Kansas City, Mo. with his wife Grace and two daughters, said he left his home in Africa in search of a better life for him and his family.
“We agreed to travel here and look for greener pastures,” Baiywo said. “When I came here I liked it and thought I should do something for my country now. I chose the National Guard because it’s part-time and I have a family.”
Now a student at Penn Valley Metropolitan Community College studying electrical and computer engineering, Baiywo hopes to complete his associate degree soon and continue his education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“I can go to school at the same time and have the experience in the Army,” Baiywo said about serving in the National Guard. “Grace supported me for my dreams. It takes a lot, but I’m ready for this. I would eventually like to work full time for the Army. I’ve always had a passion for the Army.”
At the young ages of five and three years old, Baiywo’s daughters are still learning what it means for their dad to be a Citizen-Soldier.
“My kids don’t understand it yet, but they will when they grow up,” he said. “Once they see me in my uniform and see things on TV they’ll connect the lines.”
Baiywo’s girls were born in the U.S., so they are not familiar with their Kenyan heritage first-hand, but he hopes they will one day be proud of him for what he is accomplishing on their behalf.
“They just hear about where they came from, but have never experienced it,” Baiywo said.
Army Sgt. Jerry Simons, Baiywo’s recruiter, was impressed with his eagerness to not only improve himself, but to also give back to his state and country.
“He's driven by gaining success for himself and his family,” Simons said. “Paul is very smart. His goal is to become an officer one day. I believe he will be a good Soldier and has what it takes to be a good officer.”
Baiywo will serve as a combat engineer with the 1141st Engineer Company (Sapper) in Kansas City. He is slated to begin his basic training in September at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.