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USS Cleveland Hosts Naturalization Ceremony

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooke Raffaele, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, April 5, 2007 – The United States gained 59 new citizens here yesterday, as 59 servicemembers took the oath of citizenship aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Cleveland.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. First Class Jose Vargas, center, joins 58 sailors and Marines in taking the oath of citizenship aboard USS Cleveland in San Diego, April 4. U.S. Navy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

With retention and recruitment at the highest levels in recent history, officials said the Navy can now afford to focus on shaping the force to ensure the best-qualified, most diverse candidates are challenged to seek leadership roles in the senior enlisted and officer ranks of the future.

“Our true strength comes from our nation’s diversity,” said Rear Adm. Leendert “Len” Hering Sr., commander of Navy Region Southwest and keynote speaker at the ceremony. “The United States has been built upon diversity, and today’s ceremony represents our country on what it stands upon.”

During the ceremony, sailors, Marines and a lone soldier from various local commands became American citizens. They represent native countries from around the globe, including: Australia, Barbados, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Palau, Philippines, and South Korea.

The ceremony -- co-hosted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Commander, Navy Region Southwest; and USS Cleveland -- marked the first all-military naturalization ceremony held in the San Diego region this year.

Seven USS Cleveland crewmembers who were among the group of America’s newest citizens sworn in yesterday joined more than 50 fellow crewmembers who already had completed the citizenship process.

Last year, four such ceremonies were held in San Diego, resulting in more than 240 servicemembers becoming U.S. citizens.

(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooke Raffaele is assigned to Commander Naval Surface Forces Public Affairs.)

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