Soldier Becomes U.S. Citizen
(May 18, 2010)
Army Spc. Carlos Baptista of the Rhode Island Army National Guard's
115th Military Police Battalion takes the U.S. oath of allegiance
during his naturalization ceremony at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, April 19, 2010.
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, May 13, 2010 – Army Spc. Carlos
Baptista of the Rhode Island Army National Guard's 115th
Military Police Company had dreamed of becoming an American
citizen since he left the island country of Cape Verde off
the African coast when he was just 4 years old.
Twenty years later, that dream became a reality when he took
the oath of allegiance while deployed here with Joint Task
Completing the process makes Baptista proud – and his
parents, as well, he said.
“I know this brings a big smile to my parents' faces,”
Baptista said with a smile of his own, shortly after taking
the oath that officially made him a citizen of the country
he'd already sworn to support and defend almost four years
ago. Along with Baptista, Army Sgt. Ardicio Galvao and Navy
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jo Kurosu received their citizenship
during the naturalization ceremony.
Baptista joined the Rhode Island Army National Guard on
Sept. 11, 2006, and he made it clear it was no coincidence
he joined on that date. But while getting his citizenship
has always been a goal, he said, it was easier said than
“I've always been very busy, but I needed to start working
on my citizenship,” Baptista said. “[I had to] get it while
in Cuba to come on this deployment. I was really lucky to
have so many people help me. My command gave me the time I
needed to study and prepare.”
Army Capt. Nicolas Pacheco, 115th Military Police Company
commander, said he's glad to see his soldier's hard work pay
“He was very passionate and dedicated,” Pacheco said. “We
were all proud to see him raise his hand in the first
recorded naturalization ceremony in Guantanamo Bay.”
Baptista mentioned two of his former officers who he said
were instrumental in encouraging him to pursue his dream of
citizenship. Army Maj. Samuel Maldonado and Army Capt. Alex
Arroyo “gave a lot of their spare time to help me get
everything done properly,” Baptista said.
“They didn't have to help,” he added, “but I'm glad they
Baptista was given an American flag during the ceremony. The
flag, he said, will be safely sent home and respected.
Now that he's an American citizen, Baptista said, he's glad
he can do things he couldn't before, such as applying for a
security clearance and an American passport and apply to
bring more of his family to the country he has called home
for most of his life.
“I always felt like something was missing,” Baptista said.
“But now that I'm an American citizen, I feel complete.”
Article and photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Arrington
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
American Forces Press Service
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