Iwakuni Marines become America’s newest citizens
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Throughout our nation’s history, foreign-born men and women have traveled to the United States to take the Oath of Allegiance, become naturalized citizens, and contribute greatly to their new communities and country.
For three Marines, July 17, 2014, marked the day they took the Oath of Allegiance and became new citizens of the U.S.
Lance Cpl. Shaqueal Coote, from Canada, Lance Cpl. Jorge Meza, from Mexico and Pfc. Kervens Beauplan, from Haiti, along with friends and distinguished guests, gathered inside the Office of the Station Judge Advocate courtroom aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to take part in the last step of becoming citizens, the naturalization ceremony.
“Volunteering to serve a country that wasn’t their own, what better example is there?” said Walter Haith, the field office director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Attaché, Republic of Korea and Japan. “Who would be more deserving of being U.S. citizens than these three Marines here?”
Haith said he admires the Marines for taking up the mantle of serving the United States before being able to reap the benefits that come with being a citizen.
“I always wanted to be a Marine,” said Meza, a legal clerk with Marine Aircraft Group 12. “Growing up, I would see Marines in movies and on television. I would see the admiration, pride and respect that came with the title of Marine and I knew that’s what I wanted to be.”
Col. Robert Boucher, station commanding officer and the keynote speaker for the ceremony, commended the Marines for their service to the Corps and for taking the steps required to get to where they are now.
“Originally, I entertained the idea of joining the Air Force,” Said Coote, a powerliner with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12. “However, when I saw the Marines and the way they were, the way they presented themselves and the uniform they wore, I Knew I wanted to be a Marine.”
Coote continued by saying since he has now received his citizenship, he looks forward to his next goal, which is a college education and ultimately becoming a Marine commissioned officer.
During the closing ceremony, Marines watched a video of President Barack Obama congratulating the service members on becoming the nation’s newest citizens.
As the ceremony ended, the Marines received a standing ovation from guests for their accomplishment.
“I have a vast sense of pride in saying the Oath of Allegiance,” said Beauplan, a motor transport operator with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “The same can be said for the Pledge of Allegiance. Now that I am a U.S. citizen, I know I will never take these things for granted. It took a lot of work to earn my citizenship and I will never forget that.”