SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NNS) -- Cheers and applause rang from the flight deck of the USS Midway museum as 50 Sailors and Marines became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony, July 1.
Captain Joseph Eldred, commanding officer of Region Legal Service Office Southwest, was a guest speaker at the ceremony.
"These men and women have taken a huge step and can now take great pride and responsibility of what America stands for," said Eldred. "These Sailors and Marines will remember this day for the rest of their lives."
Many of the service members have waited years to become U.S. citizens. Some, like Boatswain's Mate Seaman Apprentice Elvis Matos, assigned to USS San Diego (LPD 22), have waited 20 years for this day.
"It was a real honor to receive citizenship aboard this historic ship," said Matos. "It is a roller coaster of emotions and I couldn't have become a citizen without the Navy's help."
All of the non-citizen service members who apply for citizenship must be able to demonstrate good moral character, have no criminal record, speak English, demonstrate knowledge of the U.S. government and history, and take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution before they are eligible.
"I am very happy and proud of what I have accomplished in becoming a U.S. citizen," said Ships Servicemen Seaman Alexander Apanyin assigned to USS Somerset (LPD 25). "I have achieved one dream of mine and now I can work on fulfilling my other dreams and goals."
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.