Adeyemi LaCrown Toba left Nigeria with plans of being a doctor. Fives years into his stay in the states, he was sitting in a room with the President on Sept. 11th.
Toba came to the United States in 1996 at the age of 24.
In Nigeria, Toba had begun a six year program to become a doctor. However, he said, there was a military regime ruling Nigeria at the time which lead to constant strikes.
He said that would mean he was in school one day and not in school the next due to the civil disobedience.
“Because of that my parents said, ‘No, if you are going into medicine you cannot be sitting at home for two days and then spending one day in school,’” Toba recalled.
He transferred to the Central Michigan University in the spring of 1997 with plans to study medicine.
Toba graduated in 1998 and passed his MCAT exam.
However, forced to wait a year before he could take the next step in his schooling, he made a dramatic decision.
“I didn’t know of any other place to go,” he said. “I came here for school.”
Therefore, Toba said, he joined the Air Force.
After completing basic training in San Antonio, he was stationed in Nebraska as part of United States Strategic Command.
The U.S. military helped him become a citizen in 2000 and in the following year he had a unique experience on September 11, 2001.
On the morning of September 11, Toba remembers waking up early to work out.
“I just finished coming out of the gym and I was getting ready,” he said. “I saw an alert that something was happening and everyone had to come to the situation room.”
Toba said it took an hour for everyone at the command post to figure out what was happening. They then returned to their jobs to try to determine the next course of action.
“Later we got a message that [President George W. Bush] would be coming,” he said.
The Nigerian native said that they spent some time using the many resources at the base to determine where the attack may be coming from and if the United States would have to take military action.
He explained that in a situation like 9/11 the Air Force is the first line of attack and other branches of the military are only brought in if the conflict get more serious.
Toba said he was “lucky” to be one of the people in the room that day.
In 2002, Toba decided to leave the military and was honorably discharged.
He has since served as an NYPD police officer, worked for the census bureau and currently works for the Internal Revenue Service.
Recently Toba was elected as the commander of the Co-op City American Legion Post in June.
He said his job includes making sure veterans know the services that are provided to them.
Also, he knows how important the American Legion.
“To some of them this is the only thing they are left with,” he said. “It is like the American Legion is their family.”
Toba resides in the Bronx with his wife and two children.