Oct 27, 2011 8:00 PM by Matt Stafford
What were you doing at 13 years old? It was probably very different from Jasim Ramadon. Seven years ago he was living in Iraq and his father was a Captain in Saddam Hussein's military -- telling him to kill Americans. Now Ramadon is 19 and lives in Colorado Springs; he also gets support from American soldiers. It's a journey that seems much farther than halfway across the world.
Ramadon was only a teenager when his country was turned upside down with war.
"When I was 13 I saw people get their head cut off, people chopped up to pieces, people die in front of me, explode," says Ramadon. "In Iraq my dad was in the military with Saddam Hussein's military. He was a Captain."
"He gave me an A-K as said, 'Time for your childhood is gone, now you've got to fire at the soldiers,'" says Ramadon.
Ramadon didn't do it, but told his father that he did.
"I thought it was wrong," says Ramadon. "I couldn't go back home with an A-K full of bullets, because he's going to say, 'What?'" So I started shooting, you know; I took some rounds and threw them in the garbage."
"I went back you know, and I was like, 'Here, Dad, look; I shot somebody and I think I hurt somebody.'" He gave me a hug and was proud of me."
It was hard for Ramadon hold in the truth. He ran away twice -- both times being brought back by his father. When brought back the second time, Ramadon says his father's men put a gun in his mouth and threatened to kill him.
His mother told him to go to the Americans for safety. Ramadon did, and eventually started helping them.
"He started to give a lot of information about an insurgent cell that was operating in the town we were at, and one of them was his father," says Robert Evans, a retired U.S. Army platoon sergeant who met Ramadon while serving with the 1-3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Carson in Iraq.
Leading the soldiers to, and helping capture, his father brought Ramadon some respect from the American soldiers he was helping.
"13 years old; who would turn in their father?" says Delma Fletcher, a former U.S. Army soldier who also served with the 1-3rd A.C.R. at the time.
"That's got to be a hard thing to do, especially for a young man to do that," adds Evans.
After word had gotten out that Ramadon was helping the Americans, his mother was killed.
With no family, the soldiers knew they couldn't leave Ramadon. First Sergeant Daniel Hendrex worked things out to bring Ramadon to America; even writing the story into a book -- called A Soldier's Promise.
Now, nearly seven years later, Ramadon still lives in Colorado Springs. He's 19; a husband and a father, and he's struggling to find a good job to support his family. His biggest hurdle has been education. Ramadon didn't start learning English until he was a teenager; even though he speaks fluently, he still has issues with reading and writing. He says it really holds him back.
In the mean time, soldiers that he helped in Iraq are now helping him. They're sending money and giving him rides; trying to make sure he's in a position to help his family.