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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2014  08:38:05 AM

Four Soldiers take the U.S. Oath of Allegiance

Email   Print   Share By Erin Rogers, Sentinel Staff
June 25, 2013 | News
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Pvt. Missy Ann William, Pvt. Maria Castro, Pfc. Abhinav Sharma and Pfc. Emmaunuel Seekie stand with their newly-granted certificates of citizenship at the naturalization ceremony held at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center June 18.
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Jim Bondi, Chief of Fort Hood Garrison Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, speaks to the audience at a naturalization ceremony June 18.
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Anthony Marshall, senior immigration service officer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, presents Pvt. Maria Castro with her certificate of citizenship at a Fort Hood naturalization cermemony June 18 at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center. (Photos by Erin Rogers, Sentinel Staff)
A naturalization ceremony on June 18 at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center welcomed four Soldiers as official citizens of the United States of America.

The four Soldiers who gave up citizenship to their home countries and swore the Oath of Allegiance to America were Pfc. Emmanuel Seekie, Liberia; Pfc. Abhinav Sharma, India; Pvt. Maria Castro, Columbia; and Pvt. Missy Ann William, Federated States of Micronesia.

“Today is a very special day for our Soldiers who have made the commitment to become citizens of our great country, the United States of America,” said Diane Williams, acting Army Volunteer Corps coordinator for Army Community Service. “We also want to thank you for your service and your commitment to our country.”

Williams spoke of what dedication the four Soldiers have already had for the U.S., being Soldiers in the U.S. Army, before even being citizens to the nation.

After the invocation by Chap. (Maj.) Michael Baumann, Fort Hood Family Life Chaplain, keynote speaker for the event, Jim Bondi, Chief of Fort Hood Garrison Plans, Analysis and Integration Office and the keynote speaker for the event, recounted a close-to-home experience of naturalization with the new citizens about his wife’s own journey in becoming a citizen of the U.S.

“Today is a special day. It’s a special day for the Soldiers taking the oath, their children and their Families – and it will continue to be a special day for the rest of your lives,” Bondi said, relating their naturalization day with not only his wife’s, but his Family’s own naturalization journey 29 years ago from Sicily.

“I hope you carry these stories with you and pass them on to your children as the years go by,” Bondi said to the two wives of the new citizens in the audience, referring to their journeys and their husbands’ journeys to becoming citizens of the U.S.

“I’m so very, very proud of our country and I’m so proud of you for taking this step, and I’m so proud of the Families here today,” Bondi said before the Soldiers stood to take their Oath of Allegiance.

Anthony Marshall, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services senior immigration service officer, then took the podium to recite the Oath of Allegiance as the four Soldiers stood to say, “I do,” agreeing with the oath and becoming official citizens.

The Pledge of Allegiance was then lead by Master Sgt. Yamileth Judge, Installation Management Command Financial Specialist, U.S. Army Garrison, as the four new citizens pledged allegiance to the American flag for the first time as American citizens.

Marshall and Bondi then presented Seekie, Sharma, Castro and William with their certificates of citizenship and the Soldiers sat back down to listen to a video message from President Barack Obama, welcoming them as U.S. Citizens and thanking them for their service.

Castro, who moved to the states from Columbia just two and a half years ago, has been in the Army for seven months, and said she has loved America since she was a little girl.

“We came here for vacations as a Family when I was little,” Castro said, “and I always knew I wanted to live here – to become a citizen when I could.”

Castro is the first person in her Family to live in America, and also the first to join the Army.

“My Family is all so proud of me,” she said. “It means everything to me to be a Soldier is the U.S. Army – that’s why I wanted to come here.

“I’m in love with this country.”

The four new citizens then returned to their units for the first time as U.S. citizens, Castro to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Seekie the 1st Cavalry Division, Sharma the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and William to 1st Medical Brigade.
 
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