FORT CARSON, Colorado When Spc. David Kiplagat joined the Army, he did so with a specific purpose: to give back to the nation that he feels has given him so much.
For Kiplagat, a unit supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, military services was his realization of the American dream, a means to provide a return on the U.S. citizenship he obtained after moving from his native country of Kenya.
"I wanted to give back to the nation because it paid for my education," said Kiplagat. "I love this country. I saw an opportunity to give back, and I took it. It is so hard to get employed in Kenya."
As an immigrant, Kiplagat wanted to not only serve in the U.S. military but also exchange his freedom for citizenship and green cards for his family.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2013 via the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. Authorized by the Department of Defense in 2009, the MAVNI program is a recruiting resource that allows legal non-citizens with in-demand skills to join the Army in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship. The DoD emphasized the need for qualified personnel who have language and/or medical skills.
Kiplagat joined the 1-8 Inf. Regiment (known as the "Fighting Eagles") in 2014 after completing advanced individual training at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Born in Kapsabet, Kenya, in 1984 and raised there in a family of 11 siblings, he was the fifth born among eight brothers and three sisters.
His family still reside in Kenya but are coming to stay with him next year.
When he arrived to the United States in 2004, he attended the University of Alaska-Anchorage on an athletic scholarship for running and earned bachelor's degrees in finance and economics in 2009. He followed that up with a master's degree in public administration in 2011.
His education qualified him for a slew of career choices. He chose to enlist.
During his time in college, Kiplagat won a number of marathons in Alaska.
Solomon Kandie, one of his brothers, ran for Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Capt. William J. Whelan, Kiplagat's commanding officer at HHC, says Kiplagat remains active as a long-distance runner.
"This year he finished seventh overall at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., and third in his division," Whelan said. "He regularly runs between 60 and 80 miles a week for training and it is not uncommon for him to run 20 miles for physical training and then come for a full day of work with little to no loss of productivity. Kiplagat is always happy and his attitude is contagious."
Kiplagat said Fort Carson's high-altitude training resources are priming him for further goals.
"I am now training for the tryout for the World Class Athlete Program here on Fort Carson. I've done the Marine Corps marathon twice," he said.
1-8 IN Soldier runs to military service to realize American dream
Last Updated : 12/12/2016