By 1st Lt. Selina TolonenMarch 19, 2009
BAGHDAD - A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier's long-time dream recently came true.
Sgt. Juan Ramos, a native of La Ceiba, Honduras and an armor crewman for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Heavy "Dagger" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, swore in as a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony at al-Faw Palace March 3.
"There are no words to explain the pride and accomplishment I felt," Ramos said of the moment he took an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
Ramos, whose father was from Puerto Rico and whose mother is Honduran, added that he felt a sense of accomplishment because the process for obtaining U.S. citizenship took him a long time.
"There was a lot of paperwork involved, plus several types of background checks ranging from medical, financial, to criminal," he said.
The general requirements and qualifications that must be met prior to becoming a U.S. citizen include demonstrating good moral character, knowledge of the English language, U.S. Government and its history, and swearing loyalty to the United States by taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
Serving in the U.S. Armed Forces also allows someone to apply for citizenship under special provisions.
Ramos served in the Marine Corps prior to joining the Army in December of 2004 and he is currently serving his second tour with the Army in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Of the 251 Soldiers throughout Multi-National Force Iraq that received their U.S. citizenship in March, 49 are part of MND-B and seven serve with the 2nd HBCT.
One 2nd HBCT leader who works with him was very happy to see Ramos reach his goal.
"Sgt. Ramos is an excellent [noncommissioned officer]. He is honest, trustworthy, loyal, technically and tactically proficient and exceeds all the Army values," said Sgt. 1st Class Darrell Fisher of the 1st "Vanguard" Battalion, 22nd Brigade, who has worked with Ramos for quite some time. "He displays his devotion to the United States daily."
Because of his leadership and dedication to the mission in Iraq, Ramos' leaders worked together to make sure he was able to take the final step towards becoming a U.S. citizen to include making arrangements with the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service offices in Rome.
"I had to contact Rome, Italy a few times to make sure his paperwork was received and that he was on the list of Soldiers to get sworn in here in Baghdad," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Smith, senior enlisted leader, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. "I'm very proud of him and the other Soldiers for getting something so very important."
(Information from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website was used in this story.)