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'Lost Boy' finds new life as Citizen Airman

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Most U.S. teenagers who rebel against their parents, share a sibling rivalry, complain about their living conditions, or whine about the "slow" Internet connection on their smartphone haven't met Dominic Luka.

In the late 1990s, he lost his father in the civil war between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army. At age 11, Luka lost two of his brothers, a sister, and stepmother due to illness.

No one could have predicted this "Lost Boy" of the Sudan would end up enlisting into the Air Force Reserve.

An altar boy during the civil war, Luka was one of thousands of Sudan Lost Boys who were evacuated to a Kenyan refugee camp in 1997. It would be his home, and the boys his family until a German nun, Sister Louise undertook a role as the Lost Boys' caregiver. One day, she gave the boys the chance of a lifetime--the chance to "live." She had them write letters to various embassies, requesting the opportunity visit the countries so they could be made whole and escape the lives of deterioration as refugees.

"I got a call from the U.S. Embassy and passed my interviews," Luka said. "In May 2001, I came to the U.S."

Luka's first step into American society was in New York City. "I got to the U.S. and it was culture shocked," Luka said. "Everything was different. I had a hard time adjusting."

Luka was adopted by the Rogers family at age16.  "They're a great family and I had a great time living with them. They provided help and resources to get me through high school and college."

Luka began his American education as a 10th grader. He admits he had a lot on his plate with school work, in addition to participating in varsity cross country and track and field. But after catching up with his academic work and excelling in sports, the track star's work and training earned him a full scholarship to run at Norfolk State University, Va.

Luka completed a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems and returned to New York to help his foster parents in the house-flipping business while he looked for a job.

It was during a family vacation in Key West, Fla., that he met his future wife Laura. "I kinda felt like we knew each other for a long time," Luka said.

He and Laura made their home in Oregon. It was at this point that he chose to go for a career in the military. The Air Force seemed like the right choice.

He is attending Air Force Basic Military Training at Joint Base Lackland-San Antonio, Texas. When he completes personnel training at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. in March 2014, he'll start a new career with the 446th Force Support Squadron.

"I feel like I made the right decision to be (in the Reserve), learning a lot of different things every time--giving back to this great country--great nation," said the 28-year-old Airman First Class. "I always wanted to do something in the service."