Story by: Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas
AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – They hail from all over the world, but together, five United States Division – Center soldiers share one common goal—to become American citizens.
Pfc. Oh Young Kwon, Pfc. Jesus Moreta, Pfc. Claudio Guana, Pfc. Philip Reeves and Spc. Mubarak Musal, all with 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, USD-C, will have their dreams become a reality when they partake in a naturalization ceremony scheduled for Nov. 11 in Baghdad.
“Ever since I moved to the United States, this was my No. 1 goal—to be a citizen,” said Kwon, a 24-year-old soldier with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th AAB, 3rd Inf. Div.
Kwon said he left Korea and moved to Virginia in 2004 and after graduating high school, worked with his father for two years.
“I realized that wasn’t what I really wanted to do,” he said. “I thought it would be fun to join the Army. The [Americans] helped us during the Korean War and I wanted to give back and help during [the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom and beginning of New Dawn.]
All of my buddies are citizens and I wanted to be a part of them.”
One of Kwon’s buddies and fellow Company C aoldier, Moreta, shares the same goal and will also earn his U.S. citizenship Nov. 11.
“Everybody wants to live in the United States,” said Moreta, a 22-year-old Dominican Republic native. “Everywhere you go, you have to work hard, but it’s easier in the United States because of the opportunities, the help you can get from the government and the agencies that can assist you with getting a good job. In my [native] country, it’s hard. There are not that many jobs available.”
Moreta moved to Massachusetts in 2006. He said joining the Army was something he always wanted to do.
“I always liked the Army,” he said. “Joining the Army was always on my mind. I only knew a little bit of English when I came here though. It took me two years to actually join the Army because my English was not that good.”
Moreta said through perseverance, he overcame his language barrier.
“I put in my mind that I’m going to do it,” Moreta said. “This was my dream, and I know that this country has helped me a lot.”
Gauna, with Company D, 3rd Bn., 7th Inf. Regt., and an Argentina native, and Reeves, with Company B, 3rd Bn., 7th Inf. Regt., are equally enthusiastic about becoming American citizens.
“It’s an achievement that not everyone can get,” said Gauna, a 37-year-old infantryman. “I am proud to have made it.”
Reeves said the opportunity is a dream come true.
Musal, an interpreter with Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th AAB, and a 34-year-old Sudan native, said coming to America meant opportunity, and that gaining citizenship means he can finally call the United States his home.
“The United States is the place where everyone wants to be—because of freedom,” he said. “[There] you can live a better life.”