USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- "I am an American by choice and not by birth and have chosen to serve this great nation as a 9-year-old kid in 1975 aboard the USS Hancock, because I believe in everything this country stands for," said Maj. Gen. Viet Luong, Eighth Army deputy commanding general for operations.
In a ceremony held June 28, at the Family Theater on U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, 29 new Americans from 14 different countries, were sworn-in as naturalized United States Citizens.
For the ceremony, the Oath of Allegiance was administered by Jennifer Higgins, associate director for Refugee, Asylum and International Operations from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington D.C.
This ceremony marks the end of a process that could take up to a year to finish and take numerous forms, applications and interviews to complete. The majority of those at the ceremony are currently serving in the U.S. Army, which makes them eligible to apply for naturalization under a special provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
For some in the ceremony, like Pfc. Duron Spencer, who is originally from Spanish Town, Jamaica, now serving as an aircraft electrician for 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade it took a year to get to a point where he could even enter to serve in the U.S. Army, before beginning the process to gain his residency.
"To me It means a lot, in terms of coming from my country to America, it meant the opportunity to start life over and achieve," said Spencer. "My way of showing my appreciation is by serving in the Army."
This commitment to the United States was also reflected in the speech by Luong earlier in the ceremony.
"Although we're immigrants, when it comes to defending this great nation, we will not take a back seat to anybody," said Luong.
Since 2001, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has naturalized over 10,000 service members and their families at overseas locations.
For Soldiers interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, please contact your chain of command, post legal office, the Military Help Line at 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.