A U.S. Army officer who grew up in the borough is now an important part of the country’s intelligence community.
U.S. Army Captain Gibril Kamara, who grew up in Pelham Parkway, is serving our nation as a Tactical Intelligence Officer in the Pentagon after eight deployments, including three each in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He was awarded two Purple Hearts during his career.
Kamara grew up in Pelham Parkway, attending Cardinal Spellman High School and Fordham University.
His family, which emigrated from Sierra Leone in West Africa when he was a child, still lives in Castle Hill.
He originally intended to be doctor, and studied chemistry in college, he said.
He entered the U.S. Army after graduating from Fordham University in 2003, where he played collegiate football.
At the time, according to Kamara, he was motivated to join the service by a desire to support himself and the possibility of a debt-free medical school education.
However, after his induction and some positive military experiences, he found he had another dream: being a career solider.
“I was fortunate to serve with some of the best people I’ve met in my life,” said Kamara, speaking of fellow soldiers he met during deployments in the Iraq War prior to the troop surge of 2007.
He rose from being an infantryman when he entered the service to an aviation officer after some of his commanders recommended him for officer training.
Flying Blackhawk helicopters, after a 10- to 13- week training program, is not as complicated as it sounds, said Kamara, adding it was the attainment of a dream.
Kamara told the Bronx Times that young people who are interested in a career in the military have to think more about just fighting, noting that they are career paths as doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, pilots and career soldiers.
“I am trying to expand the aperture of the way to look at the military,” said Kamara, adding “There are avenues in the military where you can pursue childhood dreams.”
That is a message he thinks is particularly important to convey to people like those who he grew up with.
“A lot of people look at it is as a pit stop to where you want to go,” said Kamara, adding “There are a lot of opportunities in the military that I think are positives for the demographic I grew up with.”
He urges recruits to think of entering the military as a figurative job fair.
“The only difference is it is more rewarding when you look back in the rear view mirror,” said Kamara, adding “It is up to you as to what you want to take out of it. You have to approach it as an occupation.”
His current job at the Pentagon focuses on making sure that soldiers around the world get the resources they need, he said.
For Kamara, who also served with the famed 82nd Airborne Division where he made 40 jumps, being a soldier is as much of a calling as it is a career.
He never forgets where he came from.
“I am just a kid who grew up in Pelham Parkway,” he said.