FOB Tacoma

NOTICE: FOB Tacoma has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved FOB Tacoma.
Visit the new section.

Service members take oath of citizenship

Post by Scott Fontaine on Sep. 18, 2009 at 4:57 pm with 1 Comment »
September 18, 2009 5:43 pm
Janet Jensen/The News Tribune
Janet Jensen/The News Tribune

Pfc. James Dada joined the Army last year because the military needed soldiers who could speak Arabic and because he wanted to give back to a country that opened itself to him.

Dada had lived in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon since fleeing Sudan during the country’s 22-year civil war. When his application to resettle in the United States as a refugee was granted in 2003, he felt his long quest for a new home had finally come to an end.

“The United States helped me from the time I got in trouble and had to leave Sudan,” he said Friday. “How could I not repay this country?”

The 30-year-old Bremerton native joined the Army Reserve last year and expects to deploy in a several months to Iraq. And on Friday, Dada and 30 others took the oath of office during a naturalization ceremony at North Fort Lewis for military members and their spouses.

The newest Americans represented members of the Army, Air Force and Navy from 23 countries. They assembled at the American Lake Community Center, where they listened to a keynote address from the acting commander of Fort Lewis, swore an oat of allegiance, watched a congratulatory video from President Barack Obama and later shared a sheet cake decorated as an American flag.

Military service is open to legal residents of the United States. President George W. Bush signed an executive order in 2002 expediting the naturalization of noncitizens in the military serving on active-duty status during wartime.

“You and your families demonstrate, with your service, remarkable self-sacrifice to your adopted country,” Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis told a crowd of about 100 people in attendance. “Even before you secured the rights associated with American citizenship, you chose to defend our country and answered a call for a cause greater than yourself.”

Each new citizen’s story of arriving in the United States was as varied as their origins, which include countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands.

Spc. Genti Sulaj first arrived in the United States from Albania “on Dec. 28, 1997, at 4:30 in the afternoon,” he said.

“Those are details that you do not forget,” he added.

Sulaj, now 29 and living on post, came to the United States to attend high school Arimo, Idaho. He moved to Ohio and worked for several years after graduation. He later attended Ohio University and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. But he couldn’t receive a commission because he was an American citizen.

He has his application for Officer Candidate School already filled out, but he first will likely deploy to Kuwait in January with the 62nd Company, 23rd Chemical Battalion.

He held his citizenship certificate and posed for photos after the ceremony with another member of his company, Brazil-born Spc. Janaina Heroman.

The 32-year-old chemical specialist first met her husband, an American citizen, when the two worked on a cruise ship. She moved to the United States with him six years ago, and she joined the Army about 1½ years ago.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s a privilege. And this is just awesome.”

Airman Recruit Danni Wu moved to San Francisco from China two years ago. The 22-year-old Wu, who works as a mechanic on EA-6B Prowler aircraft at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, joined the Navy because it offered a chance at an education, good benefits, a chance to see the world – and a fast-track for naturalization.

“I’m so, so proud today,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a U.S. citizen.”

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. Cash4Junk Car says:

    Hello Good Job I Found You on, Yahho I hope I will Visit Soon Do not forget 2 Stop By my website. BTW Junk car removal is what we do in order to protect our planet Sure It is my work.. Amazing Work Clean Earth!!!!

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0