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From Fleeing War to Fighting One, Former Hoops Star Deployed to Iraq

DES MOINES, Iowa -- It takes a special American to fight for freedom.  "One team, one fight," said 1st. Lt. Dau Jok.

Jok's family already fought for their children's future by fleeing a war-torn South Sudan and settling in Des Moines in 2003.  Jok said, "For us, we have endured so much to come to where we are now."

Growing up in Des Moines, they excelled at basketball.  Dau played at the University of Pennsylvania and his brother, Peter Jok, played for the University of Iowa.  "My brother and I and the rest of the family have been fortunate and blessed growing up in Iowa.  We had a lot of opportunities."

With an Ivy League degree in hand, and despite his father murdered as a general in the Sudan People's Liberation Army, Dau says he knew the next uniform he wanted to carry was one in camouflage.  "I've enjoyed the privileges of America.  It`s the first country to recognize us as citizens or as human beings.  It`s important for me to give back and the military is an opportunity to do that," said Jok.

Jok departed Monday with over 250 men and women in the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command to support logistics missions.  "I'm an engineer officer by training, however, we are in a logistical demand. My job is to support the boss as best I can," Jok said.

From fan-filled arenas to supportive Iowans waving goodbye from the street as the unit heads to their departure, Jok said his experience on the court will help him defend our country`s freedom.  "Knowing that you do your job well because the next man depends on it or the next woman; I think that is what makes it special."

The last time Iowans wished farewell to the 103rd ESC unit was in 2010.  Many of them are leaving behind family they won't see for at least another year.  Jok is no exception and recently celebrated one of life`s great milestones.  Jok said, "I recently just got married less than a month ago and now I'm leaving, so it`s difficult. However, it is a sacrifice that is necessary."  It's a sacrifice Jok will not pass on because his country did not pass on him.  "Me wearing the uniform is the least I can do for this country," said Jok.

Jok recently received a graduate degree in global leadership from Goldsmiths, University of London.

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