Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Scott Southworth
When Army National Guard Maj. Scott H. Southworth, a law-school graduate of the University of Wisconsin, went to Iraq with the National Guard's 32nd Police Company, his mission was to train police officers in Baghdad. However, there was an unexpected twist to the story.
When Army National Guard Maj. Scott H. Southworth, a law-school graduate of the University of Wisconsin, went to Iraq with the National Guard’s 32nd Police Company, his mission was to train police officers in Baghdad. However, there was an unexpected twist to the story.
Southworth’s military mission was a dangerous one, with numerous Iraqi police stations being targeted by insurgents. In spite of such dangers, Southworth’s team made it a point to visit a local orphanage. One orphan, named Ala'a, quickly formed a close relationship with Southworth. Ala'a suffered from cerebral palsy and had been left to fend for himself in Baghdad’s streets. Southworth continued to visit him and the other orphans regularly.
As his tour of duty came to a close, Southworth knew that he could not leave Ala'a behind. Praying for guidance, Southworth explored adoption options, but Iraqi policy forbade foreign adoptions. Iraqi officials eventually agreed to allow Ala'a to travel to the United States for medical care, though his lack of a passport in a time of war made leaving Iraq impossible. Working with U.S. immigration attorneys, Southworth was able to obtain humanitarian parole status for Ala'a. “It’s for situations where there is no other hope, no other chance, and you have to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances,” Southworth said. Ala'a now enjoys a happy life with his foster dad and is making tremendous progress in his battle with cerebral palsy.
Southworth is now working with two other National Guardsmen to bring 24 more disabled orphans from Iraq into loving U.S. homes. Medical professionals have offered to donate their time and resources to the cause. For his commitment to “duty, honor and country,” Southworth was honored with the Army’s Gen. MacArthur Leadership award.
(This story was originally published in the August 3, 2007 Digest.)