31 soldiers become U.S. citizens at Seoul
January 15, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Pfc. Romeo Yamessi Djiadeu celebrated his birthday a day early this year.
On Friday, the 2-6 Cavalry soldier from Cameroon would turn 31. The day before, he became a U.S. citizen.
“This is my birthday present,” Yamessi said Thursday after a naturalization ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, where 30 other soldiers became American citizens. “It is quite an honor."
The ceremony was the second ever held at Yongsan, according to Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, who congratulated the soldiers Thursday afternoon at the movie theater on South Post. The first ceremony was in October, when 20 soldiers became citizens.
“As soldiers, you have already raised your right hand and swore to ‘support and defend the constitution of the United States,’” he said Thursday. “It is only fitting that today, you will again raise your right hand, swear the oath of allegiance, and become citizens on the United States.”
LaPorte acknowledged that now is a difficult time to volunteer for the armed services.
“Your service is particularly exceptional because it is a challenging time to serve in the military,” he said. “More than 1,300 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have given their lives in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Thirty-six of the troops who died were citizens of other countries, LaPorte said. Their families asked that they be made U.S. citizens posthumously, he said.
The soldiers who became Americans on Thursday currently are serving throughout South Korea. They were born in a dozen different countries; 11 of them are from South Korea.
Yamessi came to America in 2002 and calls Iowa his home now. In 2003, less than a year later, he signed up for the Army and easily recalls the exact dates he moved through the military’s training.
On Aug. 28, 2003, he started basic training, and on Nov. 14 he graduated. Now he repairs helicopters for Delta Company of the 2-6 Cavalry at Camp Humphreys.
“Those dates are very important to me,” he said after the ceremony. Now he can add Jan. 13, 2005, to his list of important dates.
“I’m very happy, happy to be a citizen,” he said.
The new citizens …
Thirty-one 8th Army soldiers became U.S. citizens Thursday during a ceremony at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. Here are their names and country of origin:
Reynaldo Alano, Philippines
Larry Buwee, Liberia
Edgar Calito, Guatemala
John Charles, Guyana
Sofia Gomez, Mexico
Daniel Guzman, Mexico
Kyu Chul Han, South Korea
Brenda Hodge, Anguilla
Sung Wook Hong, Korea
Rayon Johnson, Jamaica
Elie Emile Kachouh, Lebanon
Ju Kyung Kim, South Korea
Geun Hyung Lee, South Korea
Hyun Jung Lee, South Korea
Young Bom Lee, South Korea
Young Cheol Lee, South Korea
Ryan Michael Manuel, Philippines
Adekunle Modile, Nigeria
In Hwan Paek, South Korea
Courtney Reid, Jamaica
Bertha Roberts, Liberia
Samuel Ronco, Philippines
Dong Won Suh, South Korea
Peta-Gaye Thomas, Jamaica
Weldy Villalobos, Philippines
Art Loren Vitor, Philippines
Nan Wang, China
Romeo Yamessi Djiadeu, Cameroon
Joong Kwang Yoon, South Korea
Chan Seong Yun, South Korea
Hong Jin Zheng, China