Marines Gain Citizenship During Corps' Birthday Ceremony
(November 18, 2009)
Lance Cpl. Hong Chen, left, Marine Attack Squadron 311 AV-8B Harrier mechanic, and Cpl. Josbie Morris, VMA-211 Harrier electrician, are sworn in by retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Leander B. Holston, U.S. citizenship and immigration services officer at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., during the station's birthday celebration, Nov. 6, 2009. Chen received a certificate of naturalization and Morris a certificate of citizenship after taking the oath of allegiance.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz.
Following the Marine Corps' 234th
birthday uniform pageant and cake cutting ceremony on the station parade field
Nov. 6, two Marines earned another title – U.S. citizen.
Lance Cpl. Hong Chen, Marine Attack Squadron 311 Harrier mechanic, and Cpl.
Josbie Morris, VMA-211 Harrier electrician, took the oath of allegiance to the
United States in front of U.S. immigration officials, the station commanding
officer and the event's audience.
“It's very exciting that it's the birthday [celebration] of our Marine Corps and
also the same day I'm getting sworn in to become a citizen,” said Chen before
Chen and his family first came to the U.S. from China when he was 6 years old.
became the first in his family to enlist in the U.S. military, said
Morris, born in the Philippines, moved to the U.S. when he was 5 and followed
his father's example and enlisted in the Corps.|
Morris's path to citizenship was an unusual one. Since his father was an
American citizen, Morris should have been given citizenship at birth. However,
due to an administrative error during his birth in the Philippines, he was never
recognized as a citizen.
Normally, the process to become a citizen can take months, but for these Marines
it was shortened due to their active duty military status.
“I started last month, and it was real quick,” said Morris.
Retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Leander B. Holston, U.S. citizenship and immigration
services Phoenix field adjudications officer, swore in the two Marines during
“This particular ceremony was unique,” said Holston. “We had both a certificate
of citizenship being presented and a certificate of naturalization being
Although both certificates grant citizenship upon taking the oath, the
certificate of citizenship is derived through the parent's citizenship status
and the applicant does not need to take a naturalization exam, as in Morris's
Although the families of both Marines were unable to attend, Morris's father, a
master sergeant stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., congratulated his son via
Chen's mother also expressed her support and congratulations through the phone
While the Marine Corps birthday celebration made Chen's oath unique, Chen's
mother was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Independence Day last year and met
President George W. Bush.
“We have naturalization ceremonies every Friday; we do about 200,” said Ramirez.
“They're all special because different applicants have different stories, but to
be a part of a military ceremony like this, it just makes it that much more
Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Josue Aguirre
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
Marine Corps News
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