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35 military personnel become newest U.S. citizens

July 2, 2012 |  2:55 pm

35 military personnel become U.S. citizens

After it was complete, after he had listened to the speeches and repeated the 141 words that made him a U.S. citizen, including swearing to renounce “any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty,” Marine Lance Cpl. Hua Fan admitted to being a trifle overwhelmed.

“It’s going to take a while before it settles in,” said a broadly smiling Fan, 23, who was born outside Beijing. “I’ve felt like a part of America for some time, but now I’m an official part.”

It was a common sentiment among the 35 active-duty military members from 19 countries who took the oath of allegiance in a short but emotional ceremony Monday morning on the flight deck of the carrier museum Midway.

“It’s been a dream of mine for a long time: to become a real American,” said Lance Cpl. Andre Baxter, 22, of Jamaica. “And now it’s real.”

Three times annually, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services holds naturalization ceremonies in San Diego strictly for members of the military: just before Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

Officials tailor their remarks to the specific holiday -- in this case, a discussion of the early days of the American Revolution.

“Our nation was founded by young patriots like yourself," retired Rear Adm. Mac McLaughlin, president and chief executive of the Midway Museum, told the gathering.

Navy airman Sampson Danquah, 24, listened to the words of McLaughlin and the others and knew he had made the right decision to emigrate from his native Ghana.

“I like the United States,” he said.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Sailors and Marines among the 35 active-duty personnel to take the oath of citizenship Monday on the flight deck of the carrier museum Midway. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times