CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – Four U.S. Soldiers became American citizens during a ceremony at al-Faw Palace on Camp Victory in Baghdad recently.
Pfc. Grace Wanjie, assigned to the 'Rough Riders' 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was one of 250 men and women from 65 countries sworn in by Lt. Gen Lloyd Austin, Multi-National Corps – Iraq commander.
"It felt like a new day had dawned for me, and a new chapter had opened in my life," said Wanjie, a native of Nairobi, Kenya. "It was a dream come true because this means that I have access to the privileges that Americans have. Serving in the military and having the right to vote in America, which is the greatest country in the whole world, gives me a sense of pride and honor."
Wanjie successfully completed the long process along with three of her fellow 27th BSB battle buddies; Spc. Eduardo Reyes, Spc. Rosemarie Narvaez and Pfc. Dianne Hurtado also received their citizenship.
By joining the Army, they instantly became eligible for U.S. citizenship four years earlier than those who do not serve.
After the ceremony, Wanjie shared the experience with her family members by calling them in Kenya.
"When I called them, they were so overjoyed, and my dad told me that I was like an open door for my other siblings," said Wanjie. "He told me to make sure that as soon as I get home, I should fly the flag that was given to me during the ceremony because it represents the country that I now belong to."
When the Rough Rider Battalion's newest American citizens return to Fort Hood, Texas, in a few months, they'll be stepping off the plane in a country they serve and can now say they're citizens of.