KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT – Two soldiers completed their path to U.S. citizenship during a naturalization oath ceremony at the embassy of the U.S. at Kuwait City, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2013.
Staff Sgt. Lester Lopez, a radiological specialist with the 48th Combat Support Hospital, and Staff Sgt. Alfredo Montero Ramirez, an M1 armor crewman with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stood up in front of their peers and fellow Americans to recite the oath of citizenship.
During the oath, the soldiers renounced any allegiance to foreign governments or rulers and reaffirmed their obligation to support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies. After the oath, they joined the audience and embassy staff in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy Catherine Sweet congratulated the soldiers on their new citizenship.
“I am proud that you will be added to the American community, and indeed will add diversity to it – both in country of origin, and by bringing with you the experiences that have shaped you to this point,” she said. “I am also humbled by the choice you made – even before becoming citizens – to serve in our nation’s armed forces, supporting and defending the constitution, and protecting the rights you now enjoy as Americans.”
For Montero, who emigrated at the age of three to the U.S. with his family, from Mexico, the ceremony held a great deal of significance. It was a journey bigger than just his own.
“This is a big step forward for my family,” said Montero, a California native. His mother passed away before becoming a citizen. His father has become a citizen and his two siblings hope to also become citizens. He knows that his family is full of pride at his accomplishments, including his military service.
Montero joined the Army after graduating from high school. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a soldier.
“Growing up I always admired [soldiers], they were my heroes. People have policeman or firefighters [to look up to], I had the Army,” said Montero.
He deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2011. He is currently deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
“We do a lot of things around the world, both combat and peacekeeping missions. It is more than I could have expected it to be, especially the camaraderie.”
He credited his leadership for taking the time to attend his ceremony. He said it was something unique to the military, a deeper level of involvement and caring than in the civilian sector. Montero intends to remain in the Army. His goal is to become a sergeant major or apply to become a commissioned officer, an opportunity open to him now that he is a U.S. citizen.