MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines will hear a variety of names in their daily interaction with other Leathernecks. Sometimes, people might hear a name they’ve never heard before, whether a first or last name, and wonder where it was derived from. But there is a name that, unless you know this Marine, you’ve never heard before – until now.
Antonitongmakkourshagaimanyonadewtonggoudyakonlicknygokgoumathuckbayomraleig is his full and complete given name, but his legal name and rank is Cpl. Antoni Shagaimakour, a Marine most people around U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command know as Cpl. “Shaggy”.
Shagaimakour, motor transport operator with Marine Special Operations Support Group, MARSOC, has overcome hardships and endured the struggles of growing up in a place where he and his family’s lives were threatened by the reigning government of Sudan. Through his determination and will, he has developed himself into a leader, mentor and role model as a noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps.
Shagaimakour was born in 1982 and grew up in the village of Wau, Sudan. Even in Shaggy’s early years, growing up in Sudan was hard. Because of Arab terrorists, there was a blockade outside of his village that prohibited necessary supplies from reaching the people.
“I remember looking up in the sky and seeing the helicopters and they would drop food and medical supplies for us,” said Shagaimakour. “I ran to my uncles and asked them who was giving us these things, and they told me it was the U.S. Marines.”
Shaggy knew right then and there that he wanted to be a U. S. Marine. He was already part of a military family and, as he grew into a man, he watched his father become a 9-star general in the Sudanese Army, while simultaneously holding a senator position in the city of Rumbek.
“I was very proud of my father (as I was) growing up,” said Shagaimakour. “He didn’t just inspire me, but so many others as well.”
But as the government in Sudan changed, soon Shagaimakour’s important and respected father became a target for assassination, along with the rest of his family. In 1996, Shaggy and his family fled to a refugee camp in Cairo, Egypt. According to Shagaimakour, life in the refugee camp was difficult during the three years they lived there before moving to Grand Rapids, Mich. in 1999.
Shaggy was extremely excited about coming to America. He said it was a fresh start for his family and he looked forward to the freedom and the opportunity for higher education.
Shaggy got a job as a bagger at a grocery store to help support his family when they first arrived in America. Despite having moved a great deal, Shagaimakour kept school a priority. He graduated high school in Sudan, Egypt and Michigan. By the time Shaggy graduated high school in Michigan with an overall grade point average of 3.8, he had also worked his way up to manager in the grocery store.
Shagaimakour joined the Marine Corps in May 2006, where his resiliency, motivation and education helped him excel.
“I think that overcoming these obstacles has taught me a lot about life and put me a step ahead when I finally joined the Marine Corps,” said Shagaimakour. “I like teaching and mentoring Marines and try to make them grateful for what they already have, because I think the Marines give you everything you need.”
Shaggy’s travels served him well in another regard, he knows six different dialects of the Arabic language, as well as several tribal languages used in Africa. These helped Shagaimakour pick up the secondary military occupation of interpreter/linguist.
“I don’t think many of the Marines around him know the extent of what he has gone through to be here,” said Cpl. Michael A. Bochenek, a fellow motor transport operator with MSOSG, MARSOC. “When you hear about journeys like Shaggy’s and how much it meant to him to get where they are, it humbles you.”
According to Shagaimakour, he enjoys the camaraderie and discipline in the Marine Corps and gives thanks every day that he is able to put on the uniform and be around his fellow Marines. He hopes to deploy soon and help others the way he was helped in Sudan years ago.
“I appreciate this country’s love and care for my people,” explained Shagaimakour. “I owe them my life and I am here in the Marine Corps because of that.”