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20 Soldiers in Afghanistan Become U.S. Citizens

By Spc. Tiffany Evans, USA
American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Feb. 2, 2006 – Twenty servicemembers serving in Afghanistan became U.S. citizens Jan. 26 at a naturalization ceremony at the Enduring Freedom Chapel here.

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Sgt. Paul Daug and Staff Sgt. Noah Edmund raise their right hand and recite the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 26. Photo by Spc. Tiffany Evans, USA

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

Army Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76, was the keynote speaker at the naturalization ceremony.

He congratulated the new American citizens and told attendees how special it was that each of these soldiers served the United States faithfully without being citizens before.

"Every one of these soldiers before you was willing to fight and die for the United States of America and yet they were not citizens," General Kamiya said. "I am very proud of their service and it is a pleasure for me to be able to serve those who have so unselfishly served America."

One soldier, originally from Mexico, Army Spc. Juana Rodriguez, 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, has served in the Texas National Guard for seven years and just five months ago put in her packet.

"I've lived in Texas since I was 2 and I'm just really excited to be a citizen finally," Rodriquez said. "This really doesn't change anything for me with the military, because seven years ago I took an oath to serve this Country and I will continue to do that."

Many of the soldiers plan on making a career out of the Army and said that being a U.S. citizen it'll help them with their careers.

"I've been in the Army for almost two years now and I put my packet in April 2005, but wasn't able to be at the last ceremony," said Pfc. Rommell Bourne with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. "I want to make the military my career and being a citizen will help in that endeavor."

(Army Spc. Tiffany Evans is assigned to the 20th Public Affairs Detachment.) Bourne, originally from Guyana, South America, is very proud of his service and becoming a U.S. citizen.

"America is a great nation and I am very proud to be able to finally call myself an American," Bourne said.

"Know this," Kamiya said, "that you are true American citizens just like those of us born in America, you're not any less of one just because you weren't born in America. We in this room are all proud to serve with you and call you our fellow Americans."

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Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

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