John P. Murtha Sailor Earns US Citizenship
San Diego – Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling)Airman Recruit Joseph Onadia , attached to precommissioning ship John P. Murtha (LPD 26), earned his American citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at the San Diego City Administration Building July 22.
Born in Quezon City, Philippines, Onadia, 20 years old, entered the Navy on Feb. 24, 2015. He said that his naval service would honor his father, who spent 16 years in the Philippine Navy.
“I love this country, this is my new country - there are incredible benefits to being a citizen,” said Onadia. “I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and serve my country. In the Philippines, there are not as many opportunities to improve your situation; but in America, I have the chance to achieve my goals and dreams.”
Onadia took his citizenship test in March, which assessed his knowledge of American history, as well as taking an oral, written and reading exam, which testing his English proficiency. Chief of Police for San Diego Shelley Zimmerman said it is this knowledge that is crucial to becoming a citizen.
“This event marks the moment you become an American citizen,” she said. “You should be proud because citizenship is the thread that connects all Americans for we are a nation defined not by race or religion, but the shear values of freedom, life and equality.”
Zimmerman explained that citizenship brings forth special responsibility that all must follow. Citizens now must follow and support the Constitution and the convention of democracy.
“By participating in these institutions, you are an American,” she said. “We are the most diverse country the world has ever known. When you respect the role of being a citizen, our country becomes stronger. With strength, the promise of the American dream will be true and will lead to better lives and a better tomorrow.”
Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) Adan Flores, John P. Murtha Air Department leading chief petty officer, said Onadia was the only service member being granted citizenship out of more than 650 people in attendance.
“As a Chief, it is a humbling experience to see your Sailors develop and when you have the opportunity to participate in important moments like this, it is a proud moment for all who were fortunate to attend,” said Flores. “Milestones such as these, becoming a U.S. citizen, truly is a wonderful event, not just for my Sailor, but for the entire crew.”
Onadia said that he now feels like a true American.
“This makes me feel blessed and honored because I am not only serving my country, I can finally give back to America and to my family for every opportunity I have been given in the past,” he said. “In the future, I can continue this tradition throughout my naval career.”
Onadia said he wants to retire from the Navy and possibly transfer out of the aviation community. He said many possibilities exist, which include entering Special Programs, such as Navy Seals, or becoming a Religious Program Specialist.