Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Kon Biliu, a former Sudanese refugee (Left) shakes hands with Capt. Andrew Schroers, the officer selection officer with Marine Corps Recruiting Station Twin Cities (Right). Biliu, in addition to being a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, is a full time college student working toward becoming a Marine Corps officer.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Travis Hildebrandt

From Sudanese Refugee to US Marine

2 Mar 2015 | Sgt. Martin Egnash 9th Marine Corps District

Staff Sgt. Kon Biliu is originally from South Sudan. As a young man, he moved along with his family to Yemen where his father taught in high school. In the year 1999 his father lost his job as a teacher and they could not go back home to Sudan due to the ongoing civil war. They had no home country; nowhere to go. They were refugees. But that was all about to change.

“The United States approved our petition to resettle and establish residence in the United States as a part of a United Nation effort to help refugees around the world”, said Biliu. “We moved to the U.S. in late 2001 and then our hopeless future and uncertainty all changed for the better. We established residence in South Dakota and I graduated from High School in 2003.” 

When he graduated from high school, Biliu already know what he wanted to do with his life.

“Shortly after graduating from high school, I decided to serve my newly adopted country,” said Biliu. “I wanted to give back to this beloved country that gave me and my family so much. I wanted to join the most challenging and promising branch of the military so I joined the Marine Corps.”

Biliu spent his first two years in Okinawa Japan, and was then deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, on three separate occasions.

“I think my deployments where the highlights of my career because I was able to use my experiences and language to better accomplish the missions,” said Biliu. “During my deployments, I used my cultural experience and language skills in many fields to include intelligence, interpreting, and coalition and local meetings.”

After his deployments, he made the decision to try to become a Marine Corps officer.

“I decided to go college a few years ago,” said Biliu. “I wanted to become an Officer so I can lead Marines at a broader spectrum. I love being a Marine and I know that I have what it takes to become a Marine Officer.”

In order to fulfill his dreams, Biliu enrolled at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD. He is majoring in communication studies, and uses the post 9/11 GI Bill, acquired by his years as an enlisted Marine, which pays for 100% of his tuition, housing and books.

“College is challenging,” said Biliu. “I worked full time as a Security Officer at a local hospital, I am currently a USMC Reservists and a full time student. All that coupled with being a husband and a father of two children has kept my schedule very busy and challenging. The hardest thing in college was finding enough time to study and complete homework, however, I am able to complete my education because of the discipline, leadership, and hard work that the Marine Corps instilled in me during my service.”

Along with his school work, he is working diligently with Staff Sgt. Travis Hildebrandt, the Marine Corps Recruiting Station Twin Cities officer selection assistant to do everything he can to become a Marine Corps Officer.

“He’s a great Marine,” said Hildebrandt. “He works hard, he’s physically fit, and he’s a natural born leader. I think he will make a great Marine Corps officer.”

Currently, Biliu is waiting to go on a Marine Corps officer selection board in March, and pending his selection, will continue on to officer training in June. 



9th Marine Corps District