By 3rd Sustainment Command Public AffairsMarch 21, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - Two Soldiers - Spc. Hugo Murguia and Cpl. Juan Villegas from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery, 3rd Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery Regiment, 287th Sustainment Brigade - became naturalized United States citizens during a ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq, March 3.
For many of those attending it is a long awaited-event.
"I've always wanted to become a citizen, because I always felt like I didn't really have a country," said Murguia, who resides in Colecamp, Mo.
Soldiers deployed in Iraq can go through the naturalization process quicker than those trying to obtain citizenship state-side because they are given priority due to their special circumstance.
The process begins by filling out the standard paperwork and takes about six months as opposed to the normal year and a half.
"I feel relieved to be finally getting it done, I've put off so long and I'm the last one in my family who is not a citizen," said Villegas, who lives in Cochise, Ariz.
Murguia and Villegas have a unique relationship. While they are friends, Villegas is also Murguia's team leader on a convoy escort team. Villegas said it is his job to take care of Murguia and to make sure he has everything he needs.
"I started to get on him to get it done, because it's something he is going to need later in life," Villegas said.
"Yeah, Cpl. 'V' really influenced me to just go ahead and get it done. I was going to wait till we got back to the states, but he had already started his application and really pushed for me to get it done here," Murguia said.
Both Soldiers came to the U.S. from Mexico as children and became permanent residents, a status that has the same rights as naturalized citizens, except the right to vote.
"I'm excited! I've been going around telling everyone the next time you see me I'll be a citizen!" Muguria said before the ceremony took place.
STORY BY SPC DAVID EMERSON, 3RD BATTALION, 133RD FIELD ARTILLERY PAO. FOR QUERIES, CONTACT 3D SUSTAINMENT COMMAND PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT: ESCPAO@IRAQ.CENTCOM.MIL .
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