Emotions high as 68 sailors, Marines become Americans
October 9, 2007
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — They came from 22 countries to bear arms in behalf of the United States.
They all vowed to support and defended the Constitution, and without reservation they became U.S. citizens.
Sixty-eight sailors and Marines took the Oath of Allegiance, some with tears welling up in their eyes, during a ceremony Friday at Yokosuka’s Chapel of Hope.
Stacy Strong, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security, officiated during the ceremony.
“I’m so impressed,” Strong said. “All this time, they have been putting their lives on the line for another country. If anyone deserves to be naturalized, it is them.”
For Petty Officer 2nd Class Deon Callendar, from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 14, the journey to citizenship began on the island nation of Trinidad.
“After eight years in the Navy I am finally able to become a citizen,” Callendar said.
Deployments and other operational commitments made him the last member of his family to earn citizenship, he said. “This is my third try.”
Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander of Naval Forces Japan, lightened the mood.
“This is like a rock concert,” he said, nodding at the servicemember. “You are the rock stars.”
Kelly then challenged everyone to listen to the oath and help make the nation a better place.
“Help us carry the torch and light the way,” Kelly said.
Atsugi-based Petty Officer 2nd Class Angel Salazar put the ceremony into perspective.
“I’ve always served with honor, but now, as the final member of six in my family to earn citizenship, I can serve with more pride,” he said.
Temporarily lost for words, Salazar then added: “I am really happy.”