YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Jeff and Patty Guerrero held their son close as a sense of joy — and relief — washed over them.

“We endured a long, lengthy adoption process, and it took two years for my son to pass the naturalization process,” Jeff said minutes before 3-year-old Ethan, who was adopted from Japan, was sworn in as a U.S. citizen Tuesday at Yongsan Theater.

It may have been a long journey for the Ethan and the 54 other immigrants who became Americans during the naturalization ceremony, but it was one they were all happy to take.

“This is a big step for me, because I plan to do great things for my new country,” said Pfc. Inhye Chang, a South Korean national with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion-Korea. “And I know my family is proud of what I have accomplished.”

Chang was one of 40 soldiers sworn in Tuesday.

“I took my oath in 2006, so I know what a big step this is for them,” said Staff Sgt. Corwin A. Facey, also with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion. “I came to support my soldier, because I remember the feeling you get when you finally become part of this great country.”

As his proud dad carried him on stage to receive his citizenship certificate, Ethan soaked in the hoots and hollers from the crowd cheering him on. But his proud mom was already looking forward to starting another journey.

“I am so happy, because now we will be able to relocate to the U.S. next year as a family,” Patty Guerrero said.

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