Story by: Capt. Theodore Holloway and 1st Lt. Jonathan Ackley
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — Two Soldiers of the 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), recently completed the naturalization process and were sworn in as United States citizens during their current tour in Iraq.
Cpl. Pramote Karngkarn, a mechanic with the 724th Transportation Company, a U.S. Army Reserve unit located in Bartonville, Ill., completed his naturalization process Feb. 15 at Camp Victory, Iraq.
Karngkarn was born in 1976 in Bangkok and in 1994, at the age of 18, he was adopted by his aunt and uncle.
He lived in Maryland with his new adoptive parents until they moved to Kentucky, where he still lives today.
"I came to America for better education opportunities and the economy is better," Karngkarn said.
Karngkarn is enrolled in college classes in order to further his goal of improving his education.
He said his inspiration for becoming a citizen is his uncle and stepfather. His uncle was a citizen when he was adopted.
"I feel honored to become a citizen. It is an amazing feeling that now I get to serve my country as a citizen," said Karngkarn.
In addition to the educational goals, joining the U.S. Army has been a long time dream of his.
"I enlisted in the Army when I saw the story in the news on Spc. Pat Tillman. His story inspired me to go after and pursue my dream," said Karngkarn.
Karngkarn expressed his deepest appreciation for everyone involved with making his journey of becoming a citizen a memorable event.
The other Soldier of the 264th CSSB who became a U.S. citizen is Spc. Erwin Atmosfera, a mechanic with the 611th Seaport Operations Company based out of Fort Eustis, Va.
Atmosfera was born in the town of Lagangilang in Abra, Philippines, in 1972. He worked in the Philippines as a truck driver from 1995 to 2005. He completed high school at Holy Cross and attended some college at St. Paul University while living in the Philippines.
"I came to the United States in 2005 to be with my mother in Manteca, Calif., to have a better quality of life and to live the American dream," Atmosfera said.
Between 2006 and 2007 he worked as a machine operator in Lathrop, Calif. He enjoyed his job but decided to enlist in the Army on May 30, 2007.
"I decided to enlist in the Army because I believe that it's part of the American dream," explained Atmosfera. "I enlisted so I could become a citizen, for job security, and to see the world; when my family moves to the United States I know the Army will take care of them."
Atmosfera's wife Victoria and his two children, Jayvee, 11, and Adrian, 7, currently live in the Philippines.
"My wife was worried when I came to America because she didn't know what to expect," said Atmosfera.
He currently sends home half of his paycheck every month to support his wife and children.
"It feels great," Atmosfera said. "I get to swear in while defending my country and that makes me proud."
Atmosfera plans to make the Army a career and continue to travel the world. Upon completion of his deployment, he will attempt to move to Hawaii so that he can be closer to the Philippines.
"I want to thank everyone that helped me get on this deployment so the process of becoming a U.S. citizen could be faster. Not only is this a great experience, it has helped me grow and become a better person," Atmosfera said.