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Soldiers, widow become United States citizens

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Posted: Saturday, June 24, 2006 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:16 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Spc. Mark Alemendares was able to say for the first time in the five years he's worn the uniform that he truly is an American soldier.

"I am a soldier, and I serve America," Alemendares said, smiling. "But now I can heartfeltly say, I am an American soldier.'"

After waiting for 12 years and serving a tour of duty in Iraq, Alemendares became an American citizen Friday with 39 soldiers and one civilian who took the oath of citizenship in a ceremony at Fort Hood's Howze Theater.

Alemendares, who serves with the 1st Cavalry Division's Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, came to the United States from the Philippines because his mother hoped to provide a better life for him.

He joined the Army to earn money for college and to serve his adopted country, and he decided he might as well become a citizen of the country he serves.

As Jeffery C. Manske, U.S. magistrate judge for the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas, administered the oath of citizenship, many wiped tears from their eyes as they became citizens.

They were led by Amapola Garcia in the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. Garcia, from the Philippines, was the only civilian in Friday's ceremony to become a citizen.

Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer-2 Ruel M. Garcia, was killed Jan. 16 when the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter he piloted crashed in Baghdad, Iraq. He served with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade.

Along with Alemendares' and Garcia's native Philippines, the citizens who were naturalized Friday represented Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The citizens sworn in Friday were greeted by Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood; U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock; and Emilio Gonzales, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Each mentioned to the new citizens that they already fulfilled one of the greatest responsibilities of being an American – sacrificing for freedom.

"The most important thing about being an American citizen is service," Odierno told the new citizens. "We are all indebted to you for your sacrifice to your new country."

President Bush welcomed the new citizens in a taped message.

"Today the United States is not only your home, it is now your country," he said.

Alemendares said he is looking forward to taking advantage of the new freedoms he received when he became a citizen.

"I'm ready to vote," Alemendares said.

Sgt. Patric Delphonse, who is from Haiti, said he serves in the Army to thank America for adopting him.

"I want to serve the U.S. people," Delphonse said. "I want to make sure I do something to show how much I appreciate being here."

Delphonse, a 1st Cavalry tank mechanic, deployed to Iraq in 2004-05 and said he is "standing behind this country" and will continue to defend America as best as he can.

He, too, looks forward to being able to vote.

"It means a lot to be able to vote for freedom," Delphonse said.

Contact Emily Baker at ebaker@kdhnews.com

Soldiers, widow become American citizens

By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, Spc. Mark Alemendares was able to say for the first time in the five years he's worn the uniform that he truly is an American soldier.

"I am a soldier, and I serve America," Alemendares said, smiling. "But now I can heartfeltly say, I am an American soldier.'"

After waiting for 12 years and serving a tour of duty in Iraq, Alemendares became an American citizen Friday with 39 soldiers and one civilian who took the oath of citizenship in a ceremony at Fort Hood's Howze Theater.

Alemendares, who serves with the 1st Cavalry Division's Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, came to the United States from the Philippines because his mother hoped to provide a better life for him.

He joined the Army to earn money for college and to serve his adopted country, and he decided he might as well become a citizen of the country he serves.

As Jeffery C. Manske, U.S. magistrate judge for the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas, administered the oath of citizenship, many wiped tears from their eyes as they became citizens.

They were led by Amapola Garcia in the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. Garcia, from the Philippines, was the only civilian in Friday's ceremony to become a citizen.

Her husband, Chief Warrant Officer-2 Ruel M. Garcia, was killed Jan. 16 when the AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter he piloted crashed in Baghdad, Iraq. He served with the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade.

Along with Alemendares' and Garcia's native Philippines, the citizens who were naturalized Friday represented Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Micronesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The citizens sworn in Friday were greeted by Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood; U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock; and Emilio Gonzales, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Each mentioned to the new citizens that they already fulfilled one of the greatest responsibilities of being an American – sacrificing for freedom.

"The most important thing about being an American citizen is service," Odierno told the new citizens. "We are all indebted to you for your sacrifice to your new country."

President Bush welcomed the new citizens in a taped message.

"Today the United States is not only your home, it is now your country," he said.

Alemendares said he is looking forward to taking advantage of the new freedoms he received when he became a citizen.

"I'm ready to vote," Alemendares said.

Sgt. Patric Delphonse, who is from Haiti, said he serves in the Army to thank America for adopting him.

"I want to serve the U.S. people," Delphonse said. "I want to make sure I do something to show how much I appreciate being here."

Delphonse, a 1st Cavalry tank mechanic, deployed to Iraq in 2004-05 and said he is "standing behind this country" and will continue to defend America as best as he can.

He, too, looks forward to being able to vote.

"It means a lot to be able to vote for freedom," Delphonse said.

Contact Emily Baker at ebaker@kdhnews.com

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