Soldiers join ranks of U.S. citizens
February 23, 2012
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Tristan Gomez squirmed in his mother's arms Feb. 16 at the Colorado Springs Military Naturalization Ceremony. Born in the United States, Tristan had already been a U.S. citizen for two years. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, Tristan's father, Pfc. Heyner Gomez, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, joined his son as an American.
"He beat us," Gomez said, laughing. "It's a great honor and accomplishment. It was worth the wait. My wife is in the process now."
Gomez was born in Nicaragua, but has lived in the U.S. for 28 years. His wife, Keilly Gomez, from Honduras, hopes to become a citizen in the next year.
Heyner Gomez was one of 21 Soldiers, Airmen and Family members who participated in the naturalization ceremony held at the Elkhorn Conference Center.
In her opening address to the audience, Candace Moon, immigration services officer from Denver, thanked Soldiers for their service.
"You have already pledged allegiance to this great country," she said. "You have already committed to giving this country the ultimate that anyone can give to this country."
Nancy Montville, Soldier Family Assistance Center, said the Feb. 16 ceremony was one of the largest she had seen, with many Soldiers in the crowd supporting their comrades.
"I'm pretty proud," said Spc. Alejandro Bauta, 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, new citizen from Cuba. "I feel this country has done well for me."
Bauta joined the military in 2008, deploying to Afghanistan in 2010.
"This is another way to repay this country," he said.
New citizens came from Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Iraq, Palau, South Korea, American Samoa, Turkey, Cuba, Jamaica, Colombia, Germany and Nicaragua.
Didem Cal, wife of Lt. Col. Don Potoczny, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said she was very happy to become a citizen.
"I'm very proud," she said, beaming.
Cal, originally from Turkey, met her husband in Korea where she was studying for a graduate degree.
"It was funny because I actually requested a rotation in Turkey, but ended up in Korea where I met my wife," Potoczny said.
The two have been married for five years, but Cal was not able to receive her U.S. citizenship until Feb. 16.
"Every time you move you have to start the process over," Potoczny said.
"(The process) was long, but it was worth it," said Cal.