A Bingley man who became a British citizen so he could join the Army reserves is preparing to serve his chosen country in Afghanistan.
But he plans to marry his fiancée of three years before he goes.
Hungarian-born Greg Szanto has lived in the UK since 2007 and has wanted to serve in the British Army since he arrived.
But it wasn’t until last year, when he became a British citizen, that he was able to join up.
Within months, he was asked to deploy on Operation TORAL due to begin later this year – and that spurred him and his partner Reka Gellert to finally get their wedding plans off the ground.
So now the pair who first met at primary school three decades ago are due to marry in September – two months before Greg heads to Afghanistan with fellow reservists from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (4 YORKS).
“The deployment gave us the nudge we needed to make concrete plans,” said Greg, aged 40.
“I first knew Reka when we were in primary school back in Hungary. But we met up again when we were both living in London twenty years later, and we have been together ever since.”
Greg is a veteran of the Hungarian Army which he joined as a young conscript and served in until he was 27. He is well-travelled, open-minded and adventurous. He once cycled over six thousand miles on the Silk Road and worked as a volunteer in the Indian Himalayas for a time. He later worked as a contractor for both the US and South African military before he joined supermarket company Morrisons as a fraud analyst.
He and Reka, who is 39 and a marketing manager, settled in Bingley where Greg has set up his own holistic medicine business Reiki Healing after leaving Morrisons last year.
“I love the UK and I’ve always wanted to serve in the British Army,” said Greg.
“I’ve got so much good from this country and I wanted to give something back.
“Last year, I left my corporate job to set up my own business and that has given me the flexibility I need to commit to being a reservist.
“I’m enjoying the training but what I’m really looking forward to is heading out to Afghanistan and putting my skills into action.”
The 4 YORKS reservists will join 16 reservists from 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (4 LANCS) and regular soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS).
Their role will be to provide protection to soldiers training the Afghans and to carry out patrol and guard duties.
“I have mixed feelings about him going to Afghanistan. But serving in the British Army has been his dream for a long time and I’m proud that he’s achieved that.
“My dream is to start a family and that’s something we’ll aim to do when Greg gets back.”