By USAF Major David WestoverSeptember 17, 2006
CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti - Nineteen U.S. Marines and one U.S. Army Soldier assigned to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti became United States citizens during a naturalization ceremony held here today.Ms. Linda Dougherty, the officer in charge of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, presided over the event which drew a crowd of approximately 100 military members and civilians."The officers of the Department of Homeland Security believe it is the least we can do and consider it an honor to take part in a military naturalization ceremony," said Dougherty. "These individuals have been serving in harm's way for a country they could not yet call their own," she said before leading 20 service members in the official Oath of Citizenship."More than 33,000 non-U.S. citizens currently serve in our military, said Rear Admiral Richard W. Hunt, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. "And like all of us who wear the uniform, they understand what it means to serve in the United States military, particularly after Sept 11th."U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Adrian Mendez, of the 4th Provisional Security Company, was responsible for initiating the effort to understand the process of naturalization. He said it took approximately four months of research and organizing the effort for his fellow service members to become American citizens."I worked really hard to make this happen," said Mendez. "It's an outstanding feeling - I've always wanted to help out my fellow Marines.""This is not the first time these men have made such a promise," said Hunt. "They took a similar oath when they became members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their presence here bears witness that they have faithfully kept their word so that others may be free," he said."It feels great to finally become an American citizen," said U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Juan Perezrochin, former citizen of Mexico now serving with the 4th PSC. "Being an American citizen will open up new opportunities for all us here today."The following service members became American citizens during today's ceremony: Lance Cpl. Freddy B. Acevedo, Colombia; LCpl Alejandro M. ArciaMadrigal, Costa Rica; LCpl Christian L. Cruz, Honduras; Cpl Ernesto DoradoArgomaniz, Mexico; LCpl Ricardo Garcia, Mexico; Cpl Martin GonzalesFlores, Mexico; LCpl Jose A. HernandezMoreno, Mexico; Army Specialist Joseph Gayres Latorre, Phillipines; LCpl Yen C. Liu, Taiwan; LCpl Carlos H. MartinezGarmendez, El Salvador; Cpl Adrian E. Mendez, Mexico; LCpl Ivan MoraArmenta, Mexico; LCpl Luis Morales, Guatemala; Cpl Abel NavarroZotea, Mexico; LCpl Luis C. Ortegabando, Nicaragua; LCpl. Freddy R. PerezGomez, Guatemala; LCpl Juan M. PerezRochin, Mexico; LCpl Joasseht O. Ramos, Mexico; Cpl Emanuel Victor RamosYajimovich, Mexico; and Cpl John M. Rante, Phillipines.