By Larry Coffey, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command PAO
AUSTIN, Texas – The Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston (JBSA-FSH) gained 10 new U.S. citizens after the commanding officer and 10 hospital corps students participated in a naturalization ceremony in Austin on April 26.
Capt. Joel Roos, NMTSC commanding officer and keynote speaker for the ceremony, spoke to his 10 Sailors and 20 of their peers just moments before they pledged their allegiance to the U.S.
“Look around and savor the sights, as you will remember this event for the rest of your lives,” said Roos, the son of Jewish immigrants, who survived Nazi Europe. “I know, because my father (and mother) do. He remembered his trip across the ocean into New York Harbor, as well as the ceremony at a later age.”
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, a retired Navy Reserve commander, and Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn were among the special guests and speakers at Camp Mabry, where 30 active duty, reservists and veterans from 17 countries became U.S. citizens.
“It’s a great day for America, because our country grows stronger with every person who accepts the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship,” Cornyn said. “America always looks inward when it searches for strength, and it finds that strength in our diverse citizenry and our military. In taking the Oath of Allegiance today you are contributing to America’s diversity and renewing our nation’s commitment to welcome new citizens from other lands. Congratulations on becoming United States citizens, and thank you for your service.”
Roos said naturalization ceremonies are one of the most important events in which he, as a commanding officer and a naval officer, can participate.
“Both of my parents are naturalized citizens, as are my wife’s grandparents,” Roos said. “So, obtaining US citizenship is very meaningful as too many take it and our freedoms for granted. This particular event was very beautiful and memorable given the location and attendees. I wish more people had the opportunity to take the oath in such an event.”
Cornyn, who has served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is now on the Senate Finance Committee, stood with Roos and congratulated each new citizen who stepped forward to receive the naturalization certificate.
Hospital Recruit Marshalee Russell and Hospital Apprentice Robea Rei Charles are two of Navy Medicine’s newest citizens who were congratulated by their commanding officer and the senator. They shared their thoughts with local reporters and congratulated their fellow new citizens after the ceremony.
“It’s great to be part of the American dream and legacy,” said Jamaica-born Russell, who claims Bronx, NY as home. “I wish my parents were here to see this, but I have pictures to show and memories to share.”
Rei Charles, who was born in the Philippines and calls San Francisco home, added, “I feel awesome. I can’t describe what’s inside.”
He said his grandfather served in World War II and inspired him to join the Navy.
“I would like to honor him and my family,” Rei Charles said. “I just don’t want to be an ordinary citizen.”
Roos said it was clear the ceremony was an important event for his Sailors, and he believes they understand the significance of becoming a US citizen.
“Our newest citizens truly appreciate the opportunity and freedoms they are receiving,” Roos said. “Providing a path to citizenship for our military members is one of the most important benefits we offer and probably the least celebrated.”
NMTSC is an echelon 4 command reporting to the Navy Medicine Education and Training Command. NMTSC is part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health-care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.