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Obama Lauds Newly Naturalized U.S. Servicemembers

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2009 – President Barack Obama today welcomed two dozen American servicemembers as newly naturalized citizens of the United States.

“It is my honor and my personal pleasure to be the first to address you as my fellow Americans. Welcome to your White House,” Obama told the group after it had recited the oath of citizenship during a ceremony in the East Room attended by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other guests.

Obama also presented the Outstanding American by Choice Award to Canadian-born Peter Lemon, who became an American citizen at age 12 and later deployed to Vietnam as a U.S. Army Ranger.

Lemon was wounded four times when his unit came under fire in Tay Ninh province, yet he continued defending his fellow soldiers. President Richard M. Nixon awarded Lemon the Medal of Honor for his actions.

“His experience is a testament to the men and women who have come to this country to build a better life for themselves and their families, and who have, by their commitment and contribution, made America a much better place as well,” Obama said.

“One of you might win this some day,” Obama told the audience as he held the commendation. “You're already well on the way.”

Troops who achieved citizenship today were:

-- Army Spc. Anthony Barber Agraviador, originally of the Phillipines.

-- Army National Guardsman Alex Almendras Butron, originally of Bolivia. His rank was not available.

-- Army Pfc. Priscella Decoda Beacher, originally of Jamaica.

-- Navy Seaman Recruit Carlyle Christophe Campbell, originally of Jamaica.

-- Navy Seaman Apprentice Jeanne Ginette Ebongue Tapo, originally of Gabon.

-- Army Pvt. Ricardo Kelene Fender, originally of Jamaica.

-- Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Karl Glenn, originally of Germany.

-- Army Spc. Xaverie Caroline Hildebrandt, originally of Cameroon.

-- Marine Sgt. Donaven Jack, originally of Micronesia.

-- Navy Seaman Przemyslaw Lesniewica, originally of Poland.

-- Marine Lance Cpl. Juan Miguel Leyva Marrero, originally of Cuba.

-- Marine Lance Cpl. Anthony Marcus McKoy, originally of Guyana.

-- Navy Seaman Apprentice Nijinsky Orlando Mendez Belmonte, originally of Bolivia.

-- Marine Sgt. Abdul Goffur Guillermo Mondol Romero, originally of Nicaragua.

-- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alejandro Nunez, originally of Mexico.

-- Army Spc. Chryshann Pierre, originally of the Bahamas.

-- Navy member Leonardo Porras, originally of Colombia. His rank was not available.

-- Marine Pfc. Jose Miguel Quijano, originally of Peru.

-- Marine Cpl. Hazzell Abigail Ramos, originally of Nicaragua.

-- Army Pfc. Jorge Fancisco Sifuentos Velasco, originally of El Salvador.

-- Navy Seaman Eder Asael Valle Hernandez, originally of Mexico.

-- Air Force member Armel Possi Yepmo, originally of Cameroon, whose rank was not available.

-- Army National Guardsman Can Yurdagul, originally of Turkey, whose rank was not available.

-- Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeonathan Ezequiel Zapata, originally of Nicaragua.

“Each of you has a unique story to tell about the journey that led you here,” Obama told the new citizens. “You hail from every corner of the earth, from Southeast Asia to Central Europe, from West Africa to South America. But all of you have one thing in common. You're here because you have not merely chosen to live in this country. You've chosen to serve this country.”

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