By 1st Lt. Tobin Rader, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt.March 8, 2009
BAGHDAD - A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier, after emigrating from Haiti, decided to put on the Army Combat Uniform for a living, recently earned his U.S. citizenship.
Pfc. Richerson Talleyrand, a radar equipment generator mechanic, serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, became a U.S. citizen during the 13th Multi-National Corps-Iraq Naturalization Ceremony March 3 at al- Faw Palace on Victory Base Complex.
Talleyrand was born August 30, 1983 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents, four brothers and two sisters.
First living in Brooklyn, N.Y., he attended Marine Park Middle School and later moved to Coconut Creek, Fla. where he met his wife, Nicktha.
"She is the one who really gives me strength to go on and do these things," Talleyrand said.
One of the many reasons Talleyrand joined the Army was to provide a better life for his family and to see the world as well.
Talleyrand, who was in the Army a year before he applied for citizenship, said it took about six months to complete the process through several examinations.
"I went to school in the United States and the material for becoming a citizen was stuff we learned in the 7th and 8th grade," he said. "I had to refresh myself on some of it, but I was well prepared."
Talleyrand also said that the Army may help him be prepared for the civilian world after his service.
"If I choose to leave the Army when my contract is up, I hope that the experience I have gained will help me possibly obtain a job with the government," said Talleyrand. "My goal is to finish my schooling and continue to create a better life for my family."
Several dignitaries attended the ceremony, including Gen. Raymond Ordierno, commander, Multi-National Forces - Iraq and Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander, Multi-National Corps - Iraq.
Talleyrand's chain of command also was on hand to witness him become a U.S. citizen to include Lt. Col. Robert Bailes, commander, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and Command Sgt. Maj. Garry Hunt, the battalion's senior enlisted leader.
"I was surprised to see all of the leadership there," said Talleyrand." It was nice of them to take time out of their schedules to come."
Talleyrand's company commander said the ceremony had an impact on him.
"It amazed me to see 251 Soldiers and noncommissioned officers of every branch of the military from 65 different countries get their U.S. Citizenship," said Capt. Mark Guelich, commander, HHB, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. "It was quite an impressive ceremony."
Like many young immigrants, Talleyrand once struggled with what to do when he grew up and how he would earn his citizenship. However, he said the Army was the right choice for him.
"There is a steady income, good health care and many other benefits for me and my family," he said. "I believe I would make the same choice again."