Face of Defense: Soldier Takes Citizenship Oath in Iraq

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq — Swear­ing the oath to sup­port, defend and serve the Unit­ed States while serv­ing in the Army was not quite enough for one sol­dier deployed to Iraq with 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Advise and Assist Task Force.

 Victory Base Camp, Iraq
Army Spc. Ang­ie Schae­fer accepts a U.S. flag from U.S. Ambas­sador to Iraq James Jef­frey dur­ing a nat­u­ral­iza­tion cer­e­mo­ny at Vic­to­ry Base Camp, Iraq, July 4, 2011. Schae­fer, a Colom­bia native, took her oath to become an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen at the cer­e­mo­ny.
U.S. Army pho­to by Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
Click to enlarge

Stand­ing before a host of sol­diers July 4, Army Spc. Ang­ie Schae­fer, a petro­le­um sup­ply spe­cial­ist with the task force’s Com­pa­ny A, 101st Brigade Sup­port Bat­tal­ion, now had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to raise her hand and swear anoth­er oath she has want­ed to take since high school: the oath that would make her an Amer­i­can citizen. 

Schae­fer said she came from a very close-knit, tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly and attend­ed pri­vate school in her native Colombia. 

“It was def­i­nite­ly a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence after I came to the states,” she said. 

Schae­fer said she was 7 when her grand­par­ents moved to Mia­mi, where she was able to get a free edu­ca­tion. She said she had want­ed to join the Army since par­tic­i­pat­ing in Junior ROTC in high school. She was able to enlist based on her per­ma­nent res­i­dent sta­tus in the Unit­ed States. 

Two years lat­er, Schae­fer found her­self in Iraq with U.S. Divi­sion North, sup­port­ing Oper­a­tion New Dawn. 

“She’s always work­ing with a smile on her face,” said Army 1st Lt. Jesse Dean Swanzy, a quar­ter­mas­ter offi­cer and Schaefer’s pla­toon leader. “Spe­cial­ist Schae­fer con­stant­ly con­tributes by vol­un­teer­ing to go on mis­sions to sup­ply our out­ly­ing for­ward oper­at­ing bases. She leaves her mark on [Oper­a­tion New Dawn] by help­ing her coun­try through lit­er­al­ly sup­ply­ing the advise, train, assist mission.” 

As a mem­ber of the 1st Pla­toon “Road War­riors,” Schae­fer dri­ves sup­ply trucks to bases around Con­tin­gency Oper­at­ing Site Warrior. 

Fel­low sol­diers helped to pre­pare Schae­fer for the nat­u­ral­iza­tion test required to become a U.S. cit­i­zen, Swanzy said, adding that the unit real­ly sup­ports soldiers. 

Dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny, Schae­fer smiled as she shook hands with Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Iraq, who con­grat­u­lat­ed and wel­comed her as a cit­i­zen of the nation she serves. 

“I’m excit­ed,” Schae­fer said. “Becom­ing a cit­i­zen makes me feel accom­plished, because I will be the first one in my fam­i­ly to become a cit­i­zen – not just a per­ma­nent res­i­dent – and I will have more sta­bil­i­ty in every­thing I am doing and plan to do.” 

After the cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mo­ny, Schae­fer said she wants to attain her secu­ri­ty clear­ance and go to col­lege through Green to Gold, an Army pro­gram that allows sol­diers to go to col­lege and become offi­cers through ROTC

“I know it will be a chal­lenge,” she said, “but I know I can do it, and I wel­come what­ev­er the future holds for me.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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