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U. S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker speaks to a group of the newest American citizens during a naturalization ceremony held in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 4. Hailing from 60 different countries, 186 servicemembers took an oath of citizenship at the Al Faw Palace.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Marines call U.S. home—legitimately

5 Nov 2008 | Lance Cpl. Scott Schmidt

Freedom, opportunity, equality and service is how U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker described the U.S. to a mass of the countries newest citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Nov. 4.

Two Marines with Company A, Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, were among 184 service members who were sworn in during the ceremony.  

“It was a satisfying day,” explained Lance Cpl. Moises Monterofrias, a 21-year-old rifleman and new U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic. “It feels good to call myself an American.”

With most of his family already living in the United States, Monterofrias left the Dominican Republic for New York when he was 13-years-old. He later relocated to Bellingham, Mass., where he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

Cpl. Dwight Newby, a 30-year-old team leader from Jamaica also received his U.S. citizenship during the ceremony. Newby left Jamaica in 2005 for New York to build a foundation for his wife and 7-year-old daughter.

“I wanted her to have a good life and it was time for a change from Jamaica,” explained Newby, now the only U.S. citizen in his family.

Both Marines are serving their second combat tour in Iraq and said their citizenship legitimizes everything they have been fighting in Iraq.

 Crocker noted the service members’ extraordinary sacrifice for their adopted country and commended their decision to serve in the U.S. military even before becoming citizens.

As veteran Marines of the War on Terror, both Monterofrias and Newby have fought for the freedoms, liberties and hopes of every American and will continue to do so during their present deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.