Proud to be American

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Oleksandra G. Manko
  • Nellis AFB Public Affairs
June 28, 2007, is the day four Nellis Airmen will probably remember for the rest of their lives. That sunny summer morning in the Las Vegas City Hall Council Chambers at a naturalization ceremony as a part of city of Las Vegas "Celebrate America" program they became citizens of the United States of America. 

Senior Airman Ivan Carrillo-Moriel, heavy equipment operator with the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron; Airman 1st Class Colleen Rexti, histopathologist with the 99th Medical Support Squadron; Senior Airman Alvaro Solis-Esparza, biomedical equipment technician with the 99th Medical Support Squadron; and Airman 1st Class Jung Park, vehicle operator with the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron, came to America from Mexico, Nigeria, Mexico and South Korea respectively. 

"It humbles me to be in the service," said Airman Rexti. "It is like I'm serving the whole country just because I am wearing the uniform representing military, and that's why it's an honor." 

As for so many others, one of the reasons Airman Rexti decided to obtain her citizenship was to be able to reenlist. 

"Ultimately it's all an honor. I'm already a citizen of this country. It's not that I was made by force or I had some kind of a special need," explained the Nigerian native. "It's part of my loyalty to my service; being a citizen makes things easier. Serving so far has been such a blessing to me, so why wouldn't I want to give more? And the only way I can give more is by becoming a citizen."  

Obtaining United States citizenship has become a lot easier for those in the service since President George W. Bush signed the Expedited Naturalization Executive Order July 3, 2002. The Order allows those persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States during the War on Terrorism, to be eligible for naturalization in accordance with the statutory exception to the naturalization requirements. Since then United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have naturalized more than 32,000 servicemembers.