YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Nine Sailors and eight spouses of service members representing 11 different countries took the Oath of Allegiance and became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony onboard Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Aug. 22.
After reciting the Oath of Allegiance, keynote speaker Lt. Col. Lan Dalat, U.S. Army Signal Corps G6 director, Camp Zama, Japan, shared his experience of immigrating to the United States from Vietnam at the age of 14 after being rescued by the U.S. Navy.
“I escaped from Vietnam as a teenager 38 years ago and I was recused by the USS Ranger after being adrift on the South China Sea for 15 days,” said Dalat. "I am humbled and honored standing here in front of you here today as a fellow naturalized citizen.”
Dalat also spoke about the importance diversity plays in strengthening the United States.
“America is a nation of immigrants,” said Dalat. “America needs your unique cultural perspective to solve ongoing problems and your individual contributions to strengthen American society.”
Commanding Officer of CFAY, Capt. Rich Jarrett, delivered a speech during the ceremony giving his appreciation for the United States’ newest citizens and what is means to take the Oath of Allegiance.
“This oath is one that goes beyond the Navy and beyond our family; it extends across hundreds of millions of other fellow citizens in nations around the world in every corner of the globe,” said Jarrett. “Wherever you go, when you identify yourself as an American, you will have a friend, you will have a new family member and you will have an entirely different level of support.”
Participants of the ceremony said being naturalized was a dream come true.
“It has been my dream to be a United States citizen since I was 14 years old,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Lev Salov, a Sailor assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) originally from Kazakhstan. “11 years later it feels great to finally be a U.S. citizen.”
For more news from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/.