Across Iraq, I keep running across American troops who are not Americans. Many of these soldiers and Marines are working towards attaining U.S. citizenship while in uniform, under fire, in Iraq.
I was privileged to witness the award ceremony for 12 new American citizens in Deuce Four recently. I hope America makes them feel welcome. If the folks at home could see what these people are doing in Iraq, they would make these special troops feel as honored guests. But now, better yet, they are honored citizens, giving life to the concept of active citizenship.
Today, I walked to noon chow with SSG William Suarez, from Puerto Rico. Suarez has a home in central Florida, and is as American as I am, except he comes complete with a very thick Puerto Rican accent. The soldiers love to have Suarez around; he has a great reputation under fire. One time, during a big fight downtown, SSG Suarez's voice came over the radio. With his thick accent, the commander joked at first he thought the radio had been captured by the enemy. There are at least five Spanish speaking soldiers in the fire support element, and the running joke in the TOC is that Deuce Four can do all their calls for fire (artillery, aviation, etc) in Spanish, without need to encrypt the calls.
At Deuce Four here in Mosul, we still have 15 troops whose new citizen status is pending paperwork. These troops are from:
And two others; I don't know where they are from.