Coming Home Project
9:43 am
Sat November 2, 2013

A New American Citizen

Falah Abdullatif and Tim Coon.
Credit Chion Wolf

A few months ago we told you the story of an Iraqi translator for the U.S. Army who moved to Connecticut under a special immigrant visa program.

WNPR caught up with 49-year-old Falah Abdullatif on Thursday, October 31, right before his U.S. citizenship ceremony.

It's been five and half years since Falah Abdullatif moved to Glastonbury with his wife and five sons. They came to Connecticut because this is where his friend Tim Coon lived.

Coon, who is now a Colonel with the U.S. Army Reserves, first met the Iraqi translator during a year-long deployment to Baquba, Iraq. Abdullatif was part of Coon's team as they trained a transitional Iraqi Army unit. Once he came home, Coon worked tirelessly with the help of the Glastonbury community to get Abdullatif and his family here. As Coon told me in earlier this year while shuffling through mounds of paperwork for Abdullatif's visa, it was the least he could do for his friend.

"We owe a lot to Falah, not just me but everybody on the team."

On Thursday, Coon stood next to his friend, both men smiling wide as they waited for the citizenship ceremony to begin.  Abdullatif was dressed in a sharp navy blue suit next to Coon who was wearing his Army dress uniform. Coon said, "I'm very excited for him and his family, my family, my extended Falcon family. My team in Iraq my extended brothers. I'm jumping up and down inside."

Abdullatif said, "This is a smile of a joyful moment to have my citizenship, this is a big big moment for me." 

He applied for citizenship along with his wife Hannah and second oldest son. His wife was sworn in as a citizen a few months ago. On Thursday, Abdullatif got to take his citizenship oath simultaneously alongside his 22-year-old son. Their oldest son is already a citizen and a member of the Connecticut National Guard.

Abdullatif has been busy, just recently accepting a job working as a translator for a U.S. defense contractor. That means he'll be going back to Iraq for a short time. This time he'll be returning as an American citizen.

Listen to the story here