KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq --
Hard work has paid off for one Marine trying to become a United States citizen.
Lance Cpl. Mehmet S. Bayar, a company clerk with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, is only a few months away from swearing in as a U.S. citizen after years of tough effort.
“I’ve always wanted to call myself a real American,” said Bayar. “I want to be part of this country and serve it.”
The 22-year-old was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, by his mother, Yesim, until he was 18 years old. He came to the United States on a federal scholarship to attend the University of Central Florida.
Bayar’s father, Mete, is a U.S. citizen, so Bayar was able to acquire a permanent residency when he attended college.
“I was majoring in Aerospace Engineering because I wanted to be an astronaut,” Bayar said. “It was my dream.”
He attended school for two years until he felt he had to complete one task in his life he had always wanted to do: join the military. Bayar felt he was headed in the wrong direction and he knew it was time for change.
“I have wanted to join the military since I was five years old,” Bayar said. “I was like every other boy wanting to be military when I was young— well that just didn’t change for me.”
Bayar joined the Marine Corps September 2006 as an enlisted member. According to him, he wanted to be on the enlisted side before he became an officer to experience the branch from every angle.
“I joined the Marine Corps because it was the strongest service,” Bayar said. “Once I joined, I knew it was for me.”
The new Marine graduated from boot camp and attended the Personnel Clerk Course aboard Camp Johnson, N.C. to undergo instruction in his military occupational specialty.
In spring of 2007, Bayar checked into 2nd Marine Division Personnel Administrative Center, now the Installation Personnel Administration Center at Camp Lejuene, N.C. Once he arrived, he had his sights set to earn his title as a United States citizen. He volunteered to join 2nd LAR for deployment which was his opportunity of a life time. According to him, deploying was another goal he wanted to meet.
“The moment I met him, he was real eager to learn,” said Cpl. Andrew E. Nelson, a personnel clerk with Headquarters and Service Company. “He struggled at first, but he came a long way with hard drive and determination.”
“Since I joined the Marine Corps I have wanted to become a citizen,” Bayar said. “I want to serve the country that has given me so much.”
After many visits with the staff judge advocate, the Turkish native Marine is now months away from swearing in as a U.S. citizen.
“It’s very rewarding to work hard to this level,” he said. “Just being able to vote is a great opportunity for me to make a difference.”
Bayar is set to become a citizen by the time he re-deploys back to the United States in fall of 2008. He hopes to become a pilot in the Marine Corps, and later, an astronaut in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“It’s good to see all of what he’s pushing for pay off,” said Nelson, 22, from Philadelphia. “He was told it would be a hard task, but he wouldn’t give up.”