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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