Spc. Francisco Robles, a mechanic with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), shakes the hand of Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr., the commander of I Corps, during a naturalization ceremony Feb. 15 at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad.

CAMP TAJI, IRAQ- On July 3rd, 2002, Executive Order Number 13269 signed by then President George W. Bush declared that all those serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time on or after September 11, 2001 until a date to be announced, are eligible to apply for naturalization.

To Spc. Francisco Robles, who was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, this date means an opportunity for him to be granted the privilege of becoming an U.S. Citizen while serving for a country he admires dearly.

At the age of 15, Robles moved from Mexico to Phoenix, Ariz., with his mom's brother to begin a new challenge in his life.

Robles, the youngest of three siblings, was the second person in his family to move to the United States for better opportunities in life while attending school.

On September 11, 2001, Robles was attending his English class at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, Ariz., when his teacher notified the class of the horrific terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

"Shock, then I saw the person falling from the building, my body went cold," Robles said about seeing the attack.

After graduating high school in 2003, Robles planned to continue his education by attending Universal Technical Institute, but due to a motor vehicle accident he had to postpone his dreams of becoming a vehicle technician.

In 2005 at the age of 21, Robles joined the Arizona Army National Guard.

"I saw the opportunity to finish my technician degree and the potential to make the Army a career," he said.

Robles was assigned to the 2nd Platoon, 3666th Support Maintenance Company, located in Phoenix, where he quickly learned how Soldiers with 2nd platoon have a close bond and respect towards one another.

"It is the noncommissioned officer, who has influence me the most," Robles said. "The NCOs in 2nd platoon have mentored me and have always been there to give me advice and guidance."

While attending mobilization training at Camp Attabury, Ind., he began his application process for citizenship and successfully accomplished one of his aspirations.

"This is the first step for me to have better opportunities in my life while deployed," he said.

"I had the opportunity to be specialist Robles' squad leader during mobilization and early on in the deployment," said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Joiner, a squad leader with the 3666th.

"He is an outstanding Soldier and has natural leadership abilities. During lanes training at the mobilization site he was one of the top motivated Soldiers. Specialist Robles always gave 100% and encouraged his peers to do the same. I would gladly have Spc. Robles in my squad at any time," Joiner said.

"Spc. Robles has shown me and the rest of his unit that he has been and continues to be 'high-speed' in everything he does," Sgt. 1st Class David Dunn, Robles' platoon sergeant, said. "His thirst for knowledge is ever growing. His drive to improve himself and others around him is astounding. His desire to live the Army values to his best is invigorating."

Even though Spc. Robles maintains a "Set the Pace" attitude, he still works on maintaining a balanced life by playing soccer a few times per week.

"It is my enthusiasm for soccer which allows me to have a complete day. Soccer permits me to escape from the daily routines of work while here on Taji." said Robles.

Page last updated Wed March 3rd, 2010 at 20:40