• Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Hong
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

Aboard the USS New Jersey, located in Camden N.J., the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services hosted a naturalization ceremony on the morning of July 4th, 2018.


As Americans around the world anticipated the celebrations surrounding Independence Day, 42 individuals from 29 different nations took part in a ceremony that would precede the festivities which would come to illuminate the skies with gunpowder and light.


Among the individuals naturalized was Senior Aiman Alpha Ahamadou Oumar Tall, career development technician with the 514th Force Support Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.


Hailing from the Republic of Mali, Tall and eight of his family members moved to the US in February of 2014 through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.


The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program) makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.


Tall is now the second member of his immediate family to gain full citizenship through serving in the US Armed Forces. His older brother, Lance Cpl. Hashimy Oumar Tall, with the 6th Engineer Support Battalion located in New Orleans, joined the Marine Corps in 2015.


“I remember us both watching the videos of the Call of Duty campaigns, you know the ones with the Marines,” said Tall. “We both decided to join the Marines after that.”


After his older brother joined the Marine Corps, however, Alpha was steered in a different direction.


“He [Hashimy] said, ‘Don’t join the Marines, join the Air Force--don’t ask me why--you’ll thank me later,’” recounts Tall.


Reflecting on the past that culminated in this moment of naturalization for her son, Tall’s mother, Kade Tall, always knew that Tall would serve in a military. “He used to say that--even when he was a child--he wanted to be in a soldier.”


Initially, Kade didn’t like the idea of two of her sons joining the military. “I saw the Youtube videos of military training and tried very hard to stop them from joining,” she said.


Even so, Kade eventually witnessed two of her sons graduate from their respective basic military training programs. “I realized I was protecting them from nothing. I realized that they were right,” she said.


Immigration to a foreign country can be a daunting task and Kade was concerned that her children might have had to put their education on hold as their family navigated the new landscape of Reading, Pa.


Surprisingly, in August of 2014, just months after arriving in country where he did not speak the predominant language, Tall managed to start attending Reading Community College in Reading, Pa., at the age of 18.


“I graduated high school in Africa at Lycée Sacré Coeur [Sacred Heart High School],” says Tall who spoke French, Bambara and Fula when he lived in Mali.


Tall shipped off to Basic Military Training on July 4th, 2017, and since then the US Air Force Reserve has given him the flexibility to serve in the US Armed Forces while pursuing an Associate of Science degree—which he received on May 11th, 2018—all the while working at Threshold Rehabilitation Services.


Threshold Rehabilitation Services is a not-for-profit organization that provides care and support for challenged individuals. Since November of 2015, Tall has worked as a caregiver at various group homes where the majority of the inhabitants have been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).


As a Reserve Citizen Airman, Tall is currently engaged in a Seasoning Training Program with the 514th FSS at JBMDL, N.J. After he completes the 90-day program, Tall will be free to pursue his coursework as a full-time student at Alvernia University in the Fall where he plans to pursue a track towards a medical degree.


“He’s a real pleasure to work with,” said Master Sgt. Amber Burks, career development technician with the 514th FSS, at the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial. “I really didn’t want to miss this.”