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Cpl. Juan Arvizu Narvaez accepts his citizenship certificate from Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin at a naturalization ceremony Friday at the Camp Foster Theater.
Cpl. Juan Arvizu Narvaez accepts his citizenship certificate from Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin at a naturalization ceremony Friday at the Camp Foster Theater. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)
Cpl. Juan Arvizu Narvaez accepts his citizenship certificate from Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin at a naturalization ceremony Friday at the Camp Foster Theater.
Cpl. Juan Arvizu Narvaez accepts his citizenship certificate from Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin at a naturalization ceremony Friday at the Camp Foster Theater. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)
Seaman Miko Reves Batoon, 20, from the Philippines, with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and Cpl. Jorge Bebelagua Del Pino, 20, from Cuba, with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, swear an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Seaman Miko Reves Batoon, 20, from the Philippines, with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and Cpl. Jorge Bebelagua Del Pino, 20, from Cuba, with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. ()
Cpl. Enrique Andrade Caleron, 21, from Ecuador, with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, and Petty Officer 3rd Clalss John Erwin Antonio, 24, from the Philippines, with 3rd Dental Battalion, swear an oath of allegiance to the United States during a naturalization ceremony. In all, 78 servicemembers became citizens in the ceremony.
Cpl. Enrique Andrade Caleron, 21, from Ecuador, with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1, and Petty Officer 3rd Clalss John Erwin Antonio, 24, from the Philippines, with 3rd Dental Battalion, swear an oath of allegiance to the United States during a naturalization ceremony. In all, 78 servicemembers became citizens in the ceremony. ()

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Haiti, Ghana, South Korea, China, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Canada, Yugoslavia, the Philippines, Ecuador, Vietnam.

They came from 29 countries scattered around the world, but the 78 men and women who gathered Friday at the Camp Foster Theater have two things in common.

They serve in the United States military during a time of war, and they are now U.S. citizens.

During a naturalization ceremony, Maj. Gen. Mary Ann Krusa-Dossin, commander of Camp Butler and deputy commander for Marine Corps Bases Japan, told the assembled servicemembers that America has a “fine tradition of foreign-born immigrants who take up arms under the Stars and Stripes.”

“America has not fought a single war without its foreign-born soldiers,” she said.

Krusa-Dossin said the 78 new citizens in the theater had earned the rights and privileges of citizenship.

“You are not entitled to the rights by the happenstance of your birth,” she said. “You have earned those rights by your willingness to serve this country during a time of war.”

Cpl. Marc Vertinord, 20, originally from Haiti, with Combat Logistics Regiment 35, agreed.

He joined the Marine Corps for the education benefits and with the goal of becoming an American, he said.

“Me serving is a good way for me to earn my citizenship,” he said after the ceremony. “I know I have opportunities in my future, and whichever way I want to go, there is nothing holding me back.”

Army Pfc. Felipe Ortizlopez, 20, from Mexico, with the 10th Support Group on Torii Station, said he too joined the military to eventually become an American.

“That was the right choice for me and my family,” Ortizlopez said.

Family played a role in Seaman Amadeo Carbonell’s decision to join the Navy, but he has always wanted to be in the military, he said.

Carbonell, 20, from the Philippines, said he has two uncles who retired from the Navy, and they really encouraged him. Now he is a corpsman at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa on Camp Lester.

All three said being a U.S. citizen is a great feeling.

Carbonell admitted that when the song “God Bless the U.S.A.” began playing at the end of the ceremony, “I almost cried.”

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