A Kiwi in the Ohio infantry:
New Zealand immigrant serves his adopted nation
Story by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANUEVER TRAINING CENTER, Indiana (08/23/19)
The woods of Indiana are a long way from the hills of New Zealand, but for Spc. Craig Wolland, an infantry Soldier assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Regiment, he is right where he wants to be.
An immigrant, his connection to the American flag on his right shoulder is different than many, but just as strong. “I originally came to the United States for work, to expand my horizons,” Wolland said. “But I joined the Army to serve my country.”
Wolland came to the United States from New Zealand in 2014. An auto mechanic, he had the opportunity to transfer from his home country to the U.S. and continues to advance in his civilian career here in the States. He joined the Ohio Army National Guard in 2016 because the job and roles of an infantry Soldier appealed to him.
“It’s always a lot of action, always out in the field.” Wolland said, a grin spreading across his face. “Embracing the suck, as they might say.”
Joining the military took some work, as the process is much more involved for those who aren’t native to the U.S.
“There was a much larger background check. They sent an FBI agent to my work to speak to me,” he explained. “I’m pretty sure they called family back home in New Zealand, and checked references from work back there.”
One of the things he is most proud of is his citizenship, which he obtained in December 2017.
“It surprises people, to hear you weren’t an American originally, but it certainly makes me feel like more of an American now, being in the Army, considering lots of Americans don’t serve. To be a foreigner coming here and serving in the Army, I’m pretty proud of that.”
While the transition to the United States and the military has been challenging for him, Wolland said he has received nothing but support from his unit.
“Everyone is super friendly, they all want to see you succeed. Everyone is here for the same mission,” he said.
The strength of the Ohio Army National Guard has always been its Soldiers, and whether born in the United States or on the other side of the globe, they strive every day to be worthy of that legacy.