(KLFY) — When a boy leaves for basic training, people often comment, “He’s leaving a boy, but he will come back a man.” Being deployed helps to further that transition, especially as they are presented with new challenges and opportunities.

Specialist Ian Chauvin is one such young soldier. “I always believed in God and country, supporting my country and protecting others.”

Specialist Ian Chauvin has big dreams for his military career, despite his young age. “I’m only 20 myself. I turned 20 during this deployment.”

He’s served in the Louisiana National Guard for two years and is preparing to go through leadership training with a goal of becoming a sergeant. “To be a leader among my fellow peers is really the biggest step for me that I want to get to personally.”

He’s already shown the qualities it takes. He completed the Many Nations marathon while in the Middle East. He completed the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours and 43 minutes.

He says, “People came up to me and were like this is your first race and you did it in that time that’s awesome. So it showed that I can push through difficulties wherever they come.”

Chauvin has also taken the lead in helping fellow soldiers prepare for the physical tests they must take every year which consists of a two-mile timed run, two minutes of push up and two minutes of sit-ups.

He laughts, “Easiest way to get better at push-ups is doing push-ups.”

He proved his ability to lead by example during the marathon.

He admits it was a struggle. “Your body gets to a point you’re exhausted and just to be able to push yourself and push the people around you by showing that you’re pushing through is a great way to build group camaraderie.”

Even as he stays focused on the tasks at hand, he, like most soldiers there, misses home.

“King cake I really miss my king cake…. I would like to say hi to my mom my dad. I have four brothers as well and so saying hi to them and getting to let them see my face will be a nice surprise.”

Anyone among the coalition forces had the opportunity to participate in the marathon, and Chauvin says he enjoyed getting to know people from other countries and backgrounds along the way.