9/11 anniversary: Immigrant Marine hopes to return to combat
When Than Naing watched the Twin Towers tumble, he knew he wanted to join the battle against the United States' new enemies.
Ten years later, after being twice wounded in combat, he hopes to return to the front lines for his fourth war zone deployment.
“I’ve not given enough to this country yet,” he said.
Naing, a recent immigrant from Burma, was working at a fast-food restaurant in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He was attending college, possibly to become an engineer.
The idea that someone would attack his adopted country enraged him. He tried to enlist in the Marine Corps but flunked the English proficiency test.
So he studied English for two years, took the military test again and passed. He went to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., and asked to be assigned to the infantry.
Naing was wounded in 2006 during his second tour in Iraq. He became a U.S. citizen in 2007 and was wounded again in 2010 in Afghanistan.
Now he's at the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, N.C., trying to get strong enough to convince doctors to let him stay in the service, maybe become an officer. He's 34 and a sergeant.
"I just want to get back into the fight," he said.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Sgt. Than Naing at Marjah, Afghanistan, before being wounded. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps