MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C --
Most kids likely don’t worry about death, but this was not the case for United States Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Hasanein Alrushdawi.
Alrushdawi spent the early portion of his childhood living in Baghdad, Iraq. He lived in the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located. Fear of car bombings and improvised explosive devices was a part of everyday life for Alrushdawi and his family. Combined military operations in the area made U.S. armed forces a common sight in the region.
His father, Emad Alrushdawi, served as a chief warrant officer in the Iraqi Army and an interpreter aiding U.S. armed forces, making him the target of assassination attempts. The turmoil caused by these attempts and the general conflict occurring in Iraq caused his family to immigrate to the United States in 2011.
“My dad, his cover was blown, and we had to get out,” Hasanein Alrushdawi said. “He had two assassination attempts on his life. We moved down south to a small city, Kut, around 2005, and we lived there for five more years, just kind of hiding. Then, from there, we migrated all the way to America.”
Upon immigrating to the U.S., Hasanein Alrushdawi was able to put the fear of death behind him and pursue new endeavors, such as a high school education. He graduated from William R. Boone High School in Orlando, Florida, in 2019, but not before reaching the rank of senior chief petty officer in the school’s Navy Junior ROTC program. The U.S. Marines his father worked with in Baghdad inspired Hasanein Alrushdawi to join the Navy Junior ROTC program. After joining the program, he was further inspired by his instructors who were former Marines and Sailors.
“My instructors had such a huge impact on my life and everything I wanted to accomplish,” Hasanein Alrushdawi said. “They pointed me in the right direction whenever I was misguided. I wanted to be a direct reflection of them.”
After graduating high school and working as an assistant general manager at McDonald’s, Hasanein Alrushdawi enlisted Nov. 5, 2021, and shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, Jan. 18, 2022, to begin Marine Corps recruit training.
“As a kid, seeing the convoys, seeing the Marines walk down the street, it was just something very inspiring,” said Hasanein Alrushdawi. “How could somebody be this unstoppable? Because we've never seen something like that. Just like a machine, like a robot. Being a Marine just means so much to me because during those times of war, the Marines back then never showed fear, no tiredness, and they would just be unstoppable. And I wanted to be that. And when I got here, my first chance, I took it. And now I'm a Marine.”
Hasanein Alrushdawi graduated from recruit training April 15, 2022, attaining the primary military occupational specialty (MOS) of motor transport operator. After completing MOS training, Hasanein Alrushdawi received orders to Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 273 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. Soon after arriving, as many motivated Marines do, he saw a higher potential for himself and set his sights on larger goals.
“My main goal right now is to attend the Naval Academy and commission as an officer,” Hasanein Alrushdawi said. “I have the title of a Marine, but there is always something more. I just want to keep striving, keep going. This is not just a part of my life; this is my life. This is a career that I want to keep going until I can't anymore.”
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Dwight Waggoner, the air operations company gunnery sergeant for MWSS-273, commended Hasanein Alrushdawi on his ability to embody the professionalism and dedication that the Marines in Baghdad had shown him and to pass it on to the other Marines at his unit.
“Coming from a diverse background as he did in Iraq, and the inspiring story that he has, I talk about that because he got to see Marines in combat from the time he was just a small child.” Waggoner said. “They interacted with him, and the professionalism that the Marines showed him, he wanted to join the Marine Corps because of them.”
Hasanein Alrushdawi attributes his professionalism to the Marines in Baghdad and strives to influence other Marines in the same way.
“One thing that I want to harp on for all Marines in the Marine Corps,” Hasanein Alrushdawi began, “Wherever you may go, there's always people that look up to us. They might be scared, but we're the hope that they have. Our title holds weight, but as a person, how you carry yourself will impact those people all around the world. Just do your job to the best of your ability and protect people by any means necessary.”
Living in turmoil caused Hasanein Alrushdawi and his family to seek refuge. Now Hasanein Alrushdawi, having earned the title of U.S. Marine, has claimed the right to offer protection and peace of mind to people around the world, which is something he looked up to when he saw those Marines in Baghdad early in his childhood.