USAG Bavaria welcomes newest American citizens

By USAG Bavaria PAOFebruary 2, 2023

USAG Bavaria welcomes newest American citizens
Group picture of newest American citizens and USAG Bavaria leadership, Jan 31, 2023, at the Tower View Conference center at Tower Barracks. (Photo Credit: Natalie Simmel) VIEW ORIGINAL

GRAFENWHOER, Germany — U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria hosted it’s eighth hybrid naturalization ceremony, Jan. 31 at the Tower View Conference Center at which 36 members of the USAG Bavaria community were welcomed as new citizens of the United States.

The ceremony was part of a special program to naturalize active duty military members and their family members.

Following the National Anthem, sung by Dani Gutierrez, the Oath of Allegiance was virtually conducted by Eloris James, Immigration Services Officer from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“Thank you all for your service and your commitment to the U.S.,” said James. “To become a Soldier before becoming a U.S. citizen is an incredible act of patriotism and selflessness, thank you very much for your service and commitment to our nation.”

The ceremony concluded with Garrison Commander Col. Kevin A. Poole and Command Sgt. Maj. Hermes F. Acevedo distributing certificates of naturalization to America’s newest citizens.

“This is a wonderful initiative we have going here to be able to conduct this ceremony to set a mark in time where you all made a decision to become United States citizens,” said Poole. “As a son of an immigrant, and a proud Panamanian, it gives me great pleasure to be here presenting over this ceremony.”

The new U.S. Citizens originating from 21 different countries originally come from: Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Togo, and Vietnam. Currently, the candidates are stationed at garrisons across Germany, including Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels, and Illesheim/Ansbach.

“What makes this country great, what makes America great is its diversity.” Poole added. “We need your culture, we need your music, we need your mannerisms, we need your background, and we need your experience—it is what brings us together as a country and makes us great.”

Pvt. Ivan Kassa from Gabon has been in the military for two years working for his dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.

“I joined the military for the possibility of becoming a U.S. citizen and I’m excited for the fact that my career in the military is blossoming,” said Kassa. “I am very excited, and I can’t wait to vote in the upcoming elections.”

Pvt. Adoude Goeh-Akue from Togo also shared her excitement for becoming a U.S. citizen.

“I’m happy I made it because this has been a long journey, it means a lot to me,” Goeh-Akue said. “I am excited to apply for a passport and travel and explore.”

Members from the legal office attended the ceremony to celebrate with those who they’ve assisted in the process of becoming a citizen.

“I am so proud of all the people who nationalized,” said Maureen Ochi Sides, paralegal at the Rose Barracks Legal Assistance Office. “They have all put in so much work to get the citizenship and it’s just really fulfilling to see them all achieve this goal of theirs.”

Ochi Sides and her team assisted 19 out of the 36 participants on their journey to their American citizenship.

“The fact that they have this hybrid ceremony with the people back in Washington, D.C. is really convenient, I sent my family a link and I hope they are watching,” said Kassa.

The youngest participant of the ceremony was one week old. His mother was one of the proud participants naturalized during the ceremony.

Since the pandemic, USAG Bavaria and USCIS have worked in tandem to host these hybrid ceremonies. Since the program started in July 2021, eight hybrid ceremonies have been conducted at USAG Bavaria – totaling more than 200 naturalizations to date.

·       A recordings of the ceremony can be viewed here.

·       Photos of the event can be viewed here.