- Military service members from 51 countries became U.S. citizens during a swearing-in ceremony aboard the USS Midway Memorial Museum July 2.
In celebration of Independence Day, the flight deck of the USS Midway was transformed into an official courtroom for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where 300 service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps became American Citizens.
"It is humbling and an absolute honor to be apart of this ceremony with so many of our past decorated veterans in our audience today," said Capt. Collin Green, a decorated U.S. Navy Seal and guest speaker for the event. "And to the promise of the future represented by you the 300 men and women in uniform we welcome today citizens of the United States of America."
USCIS officials announced that this was the largest all-military naturalization ceremony in history, focusing on Citizenship and Service, honoring those who have and those who continue to guarantee our freedom.
During the ceremony, USCIS honored Medal of Honor recipient Tibor "Ted" Ruben, a Hungarian-born Korean War veteran, by awarding him the American by Choice Award. In an unexpected but welcomed interruption, Sailors aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4) manned the rails in honor of their shipmates as the ship passed the Midway upon returning to homeport.
Six ballerinas with the San Diego Ballet performed to "Victory at Sea," and the Sounds of Freedom Choir sang the national anthem as well as a rendition of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American."
U.S. Army Wounded Warrior, Sgt. Carlos Martinez-Negrete, led the Pledge of Allegiance as veterans of World War II through the Global War on Terrorism observed. Many of the service members sworn in during the even have been deployed overseas and are veterans themselves.
"This was a process that I needed to do, and I am very happy to be a United States citizen. After all the paperwork and time I can now say I am proud to be an American," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Bettina-Angeline Bautista, originally from the Philippines.
Service members who are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen are now eligible to apply for citizenship under special provisions provided for in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
All non-citizen service members who apply for citizenship must complete one year or more of service, be able to demonstrate good moral character, have no criminal record, speak English, demonstrate knowledge of the U.S. government and history, and take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution before they are eligible.
For more news from Navy Region Southwest, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cnrsw/.