Do you think you’ve had a hard life? Think again.

In 1978, Tchicaya Missamou was born in Brazzaville, Congo, the eighth of 16 children. While still a child, he became a soldier. He spent many years watching his child comrades being plied with drugs and alcohol in order to commit atrocities. When he was 19, he escaped and used his militia connections to convey jewels, computers, and white diplomats out of the country. He became a rich man, but a hunted man, and his house was destroyed and his family brutalized in front of him by his own militia. With the help of his father and European acquaintances, he made his way first to Europe and then to America.

While working at a martial arts studio in California, Missamou met a recruiter for the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined the Marines and served on several military deployments, including Iraq, where he was instrumental in the discovery and release of Private Jessica Lynch in 2003.

Missamou became an American citizen and is now a successful businessman who owns and operates a personal training facility—The Warrior Fitness Camp—in Valencia, California. He also is pursuing a Ph.D. in education. He lives in Saugus with his wife and three children.

Missamou will discuss his amazing journey to the American Dream and his memoir, In the Shadow of Freedom: A Heroic Journey to Liberation, Manhood, and America, on Thursday, March 15, at 2 p.m. in Room LL430 of the San Diego State University Library. The presentation, which is sponsored by the Aztec Parents Fund, the Veterans Center, and the SDSU Library, is free and open to the public. We hope you can join us. You’ll leave inspired!