News: Soldier-siblings become US citizens in combat zone
By 1st Lt. Amanda Cookman, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan--Spc. Meri Ngiracheluolu-Tarkong, “Lulu,” and Spc. Spal Ebas are both serving with the 63rd Ordnance Company, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. Not only do the two share a common bond as soldiers, but they also share a familial bond as siblings.
The two soldiers were stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., when Lulu received orders for combat. After Ebas heard the news, he volunteered to deploy with his sister.
"She is my younger sister and I thought it would be better for her if I went on the deployment (too),” said Ebas, a water treatment specialist. “I wanted to show her my support, and I wanted us to come home together."
Together, the two soldiers are supporting Operation Enduring Freedom—and together, the two siblings have become U.S. citizens during their combat tour.
Within four months of one another, both soldiers raised their right hand and took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. The two vowed to renounce allegiance to any foreign government, to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and to bear arms on behalf of the country when required by the law.
Lulu received her citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, March 1. Ebas followed suit and received his U.S. citizenship during an Independence Day Ceremony held at Bagram Air Field, July 4.
“I felt excited and good because this will open up endless job opportunities in the military, and now I can stay in the United States with my children,” said Lulu, an ammunition specialist who is married with four children.
Before their deployment, Lulu and Ebas were citizens of Palau, an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. Ebas came to the United States in 2002 to pursue an education and opportunities through Job Corps, a free education and training program designed to help people learn a career and help its members find a successful job.
Lulu joined the U.S. Army from Palau in 2005, for a better life for her family. Six months later, her brother, Ebas, also enlisted.
“With my citizenship, I can now continue to advance in the military, and it opens up the door for jobs, as well as for my family,” said Ebas, who is also married with four children.
First Lt. David Young, Ebas and Lulu’s detachment commander, said he is proud of his soldiers and understands the importance of becoming a U.S. citizen. A native of Panama, he too renounced his citizenship in 2006.
“Lulu and Ebas are two of the hardest workers that we have here in Afghanistan,” said Young. “It is obvious their deployment is easier because they share a family bond; they have managed to spread that connection throughout the entire unit.”