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Largest All-Military Naturalization Ceremony Hosted In San Diego

Audio

Aired 7/2/10

The largest all-military naturalization ceremony in U.S. history took place in downtown San Diego Friday. Three hundred active-duty military personnel became U.S. citizens in a ceremony aboard the USS Midway in the city's downtown harbor.

The largest all-military naturalization ceremony in U.S. history took place in downtown San Diego Friday.

U.S. citizenship is bestowed on military servicemembers in the largest all-military naturalization ceremony in U.S. history on July 2, 2010 on the USS Midway in San Diego.
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Above: U.S. citizenship is bestowed on military servicemembers in the largest all-military naturalization ceremony in U.S. history on July 2, 2010 on the USS Midway in San Diego.

Three hundred active-duty military personnel became U.S. citizens in a ceremony aboard the USS Midway in the city's downtown harbor.

The new citizens hail from more than 50 countries from American Samoa to Zimbabwe and represent the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force branches of the armed forces.

Navy Seal Captain Colin Green highlighted foreign-born servicemembers’ unique contributions when he addressed the newly-minted Americans.

“You 300 bring innate language skills, cultural perspective and most of all a diversity of thought that are more critical than weapons systems in meeting challenges and solving problems with key allies and partner nations,” he said.

Before Friday's ceremony, the largest all-military naturalization took place last Fourth of July in Baghdad. On that day Vice President Joseph Biden addressed 240 new American citizens.

Petty Officer Maria Pimentel decided to submit her citizenship paperwork after nine years in the Navy that have included deployments to Iraq and Kuwait. She was born in the Philippines and came to the United States with her parents in 1991.

"I wanted to serve in the military because my dad didn't get a chance to do it," she said. "I've always seen my parents work and I wanted to give something back to them."

She said becoming a citizen will let her pursue becoming an officer.

About 170,000 non-citizens are members of the military. Roughly 6,000 are naturalized each year. Non-citizens who have performed any active military service since September 11, 2001 are currently eligible to apply for expedited citizenship.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Maximillian_derembourg'

Maximillian_derembourg | July 3, 2010 at 12:39 a.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

Imagine my surprise when I learned that "all four branches of the armed forces" were represented in this grand ceremony. It was my belief that the Pentagon had five sides, Miss Calvert. If it had only four...I do believe it would be called the Square.
I am not surprised, however, to see this mistake. If you ask a hundred Americans which branch of their nation's military was the first to be formed, 90% of them would swear it was the Marines; most of the other 10% would believe it was the Navy, or possibly the Army under George Washington. They would all be incorrect.
If you asked which branch suffered the highest casualty PERCENTAGE in all three major conflicts in which America suffered major losses over the last six decades (WWII, Korea, and Vietnam), few would guess that was actually America's first and oldest military branch: The U.S. Coast Guard.
Every landing craft launched from Navy ships carrying Army and Marine forces was piloted by a "Coastie," they also piloted and crewed the largely unarmed supply ships (prime targets) carrying ammo, food, fuel, and other supplies to our troops in the Pacific and coastal Europe.
It was USCG cutters armed with deck guns and depth charges - while U.S. Naval vessels were otherwise engaged in seas abroad- which patrolled the waters off the American East and West coasts in a active defense against Japanese and German submarines. Such enemy submarines attacking our shipping assets brought the war home to us after Pearl Harbor.
The USCG is also the only branch to regularly and on a daily basis to engage in armed interdiction activities in service to our nation, despite the state of war at the time.
How many of our fine military forces find themselves boarding strange vessels on a daily basis to protect our actual coastal waters - in small teams typically of four - armed with and possessed of only the weaponry and abilities which they brought with them? Should a USCG Port Security boarding force come across a nuclear warhead, dirty-bomb, biological or gas weapon in the hold of a ship approaching one of our port cities, there is no bomb-squad for them to call: they are the bomb squad, they are on their own.
They would also be responsible for dealing with holds full of drugs, weapons runners, and those sneaking in illegally for whatever purpose. No freighter, liner, or cargo ship is allowed to approach our shores or ports until searched and cleared by such a boarding team.
As we approach this year's Fourth of July celebrations, I can only hope that KPBS and other news outlets not spend yet another year forgetting and overlooking our most commonly forgotten and unacknowledged branch of U.S. armed forces.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 8, 2010 at 1:44 p.m. ― 4 years, 4 months ago

With all due respect Maximillian_derembourg, the distinction being made is the Department of Defense. In fact, there are only three, not four.

Marines are just a component of the Navy with the Army and Air Force being the two other military departments. The Coast Guard, in peace time (which we currently are in), is not a member of the Department of Defense. If we are speaking uniformed branches, the US has seven which includes NOAA and PHSCC.

That all aside, there is something very unsettling about having over 170,000 non-citizens in our military. They are fighting for a foreign country in return for money. That is the definition of a mercenary and it does not seem appropriate that the military actively recruit foreign nationals.

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Avatar for user 'Maximillian_derembourg'

Maximillian_derembourg | October 15, 2010 at 1:44 p.m. ― 4 years, 1 month ago

I have a few comments on your comments.
Thank you for the clarity of detail.
Perhaps I should have said "historically," and YES, the REASON that the Pentagon was built with five sides was due to the FIVE MILITARY branches, one of which was the United States Coast Guard.
NOAA and PHSCC did_not_exist when the Pentagon was built. The USCG DID, and as a military branch. The FIRST Military of the United States, in FACT, (as I stated).
The USCG was moved out of the DOD and into the Department of Transportation, but this was only done as part of the Patriot Act after 9/11. In fact, the USCG's MILITARY role was not changed in the slightest (they still serve in the Middle East at this moment) it was simply a matter of very recent paperwork. Likely mainly funding-related.

Also, and most interestingly to me, TWO things happened after I posted the above first comment. The first was that the KPBS article was RE-WRITTEN as to the line I was commenting on, the reporter (or some KPBS editor) CHANGED the article to remove the very line I was commenting on, it was a line indicating that "All four branches of the United States Military were present...". I find it very telling that that very line DOES NOT EXIST in the article as it reads NOW. It was removed and the article was re-written without the line. AFTER my comments.
Now the line reads "...and represent the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force branches of the armed forces."

Secondly, there was a VERY interesting little piece on NPR Radio "Things you don't know about the United States Coast Guard" And GUESS WHAT!?! It included almost everything I WROTE above! I really would have appreciated (as a professional writer) an e-mail from a NPR rep., and a by-line when I heard essentially a piece I WROTE on their station!
Well, I suppose I can at least claim the have been published through NPR, now =}

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