Marshallese and Palauan Soldiers Become American Citizens in Afghanistan
|Spc. Tod Lanki of Honolulu (second from right) a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, TF Falcon, became a U.S. citizen during a ceremony at Camp Pheonix, Afghanistan, July 4, 2011. Lanki, originally from the Marshall Islands, was singled out by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry during the ceremony for having earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart while serving in Afghanistan. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot, Task Force Falcon Public Affairs)|
KABUL, Afghanistan (July 5, 2011) -- On a day marking the 235th birthday of the United States, five Soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Falcon, took the Oath of Naturalization, becoming some of the nation’s newest citizens during a ceremony on July 4, 2011.
“You are representative of the values and diversity that make our country stronger,” said U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry as he addressed 48 servicemembers from 25 countries. “The great patriots who founded our nation have a lot in common with you. Like them, you’ve fought to keep America safe, and you’ve served with distinction.”
The TF Falcon Soldiers who became U.S. citizens during the Independence Day naturalization ceremony included:
Spc. Tod Lanki, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, TF Knighthawk, 10th CAB, originally from the Marshall Islands.
Spc. Jeridine Stewart, a communications specialist with Headquarters Support Company, TF Mountain Eagle, 10th CAB, originally from Palau.
Pfc. Felipe Andrade, a pathfinder with Company F, TF Knighthawk, 10th CAB, originally from Brazil.
Pfc. Robert Holm, an automated logistics specialist with Company E, TF Tigershark, 10th CAB, originally from Jamaica.
Pfc. Zeiko Ifill, an automated logistics specialist with Company E, TF Tigershark, 10th CAB, originally from Barbados.
Andrade said he lived in the U.S. for 12 years, and although over that time he has come to feel like an American, he now can truly call himself one.
“There’s no greater feeling than to be called an American,” he said with a smile.
For Stewart, who has served in the U.S. Army for seven years, the Fourth of July reminds her the U.S. is a nation of immigrants who’ve come from all over the world.
“I believe the U.S. is a melting pot of people of all races, all of who share the same freedoms,” she said. “Now, I get to be a part of it.”
Eikenberry, who will leave Afghanistan this summer, told the new citizens he is proud to call them American patriots.
“I want to thank each of you personally,” Eikenberry said. “You are the real U.S. ambassadors here in Afghanistan.”
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