By Sgt. Sidnie Smith-Swift | 4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
FORT CARSON, Colo. — While most people in the U.S. Army are born American citizens, many Soldiers who serve must work toward becoming naturalized citizens.
One Soldier, Staff Sgt. Kevin Gillie, a flight paramedic with Charlie Company, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, worked to become a naturalized citizen.
Originally from Sittingbourne, Kent, England, Gillie joined the British army at 18 years old, shortly after 9/11.
During one of the many training missions to California, Gillie said he met his wife, Catherine, while still serving in the British army. They continued a long-distance relationship for over a year before he moved to the U.S. to be with her. Gillie worked as a paramedic and was trying to enroll in programs to become a physician’s assistant.
While at a wedding, Gillie spoke with a fellow guest and learned that the U.S. Army had flight paramedics.
“I called (a U.S. Army) recruiter and told him specifically what I wanted to do as a job,” Gillie said.
Gillie said he never imagined he would enlist in the military again; however, he joined the U.S. Army as a combat medic six years after leaving the British army. Gillie received his citizenship and became a naturalized U.S. citizen while at basic combat training.
He said there are many differences between the two armies, from training to Soldiers to expectations. The most significant difference between the two is how they are perceived.
“People (in England) think of the military as more of a last resort because they feel they don’t have a lot of options,” he said. “(In the U.S.) there is a lot of pride (in) people have served their country.”
First Sgt. Justin Cauthen, Charlie Company, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg., said Gillie is a talented NCO and instructor.
“Staff Sgt. Gillie’s pursuit of naturalization is echoed in how he cares for his patients and leads his Soldiers,” Cauthen said. “His subordinates see him as the embodiment of the American spirit, and the continued endeavors of the medical community to conserve our fighting forces.”
Gillie serves as a flight instructor in his company, where he trains both flight medics and crew members on the HH-60M Black Hawk. He enjoys training junior Soldiers and his recent deployment to Afghanistan.
“I enjoy the adrenaline rush you get from being launched any point of the day and just trying to make an impact in somebody’s life,” he said. “It’s rewarding to go out and make a difference.”