Home Away from Home- Airmen Gain U.S. Citizenship through the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shelby Rapert
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

 Eight Airmen from the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron and Logistics Readiness Squadron were recognized June 29 during a U.S. Naturalization and Oath of Allegiance Ceremony.

Traditionally, in order to become a U.S. citizen, one must live in the country for a minimum of five years before beginning the process, but these Airmen were eligible for citizenship after one year of service.

“The long and tiresome naturalization process is greatly expedited for service members,” said Senior Airman Venroy Williams, 375th CES water and fuel systems maintenance journeyman, a newly naturalized citizen who was chosen to speak at the ceremony. “We are granted the privilege of application with one year of honorary military service. How awesome is that?”

Williams left his home country of Jamaica in April 2016, in search of a new life and the countless opportunities tied to the ideal of the “American Dream.” He explained that the principle of hard work has led him to reach his goals and help others along the way.

“This ceremony is a symbol of equal opportunity, a symbol of leveling the platform for all, a symbol of equality of mankind,” said Williams.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many naturalization ceremonies were canceled and many were unable to be recognized for their accomplishments. Leadership at Scott Air Force Base wanted to highlight these Airmen and give them back the celebration they missed out on.

Airman 1st Class Leizeveil Vann Antonio, 375th CES structural apprentice, said, “I just really appreciate what everyone is doing for us. I didn’t get to experience anything like this because of COVID-19.”

The Airmen who were recognized are:

Airman 1st Class Kennedy Mutuku, 375th CES water fuel system maintenance journeyman, is originally from Kenya where he says the people are kind and the ocean is beautiful. He left Kenya for better opportunities and to see what else could be in store for his future.

“I wanted to learn about American culture and pursue a career in computer science,” he said. “And I couldn’t think of a better place to do that than join the Air Force.”

Mutuku began the process to gain his citizenship in March 2021 and by June 7, 2022, he received the finalized paperwork officially making him a U.S. citizen.

Senior Airman Venroy Williams, 375th CES water fuel system maintenance journeyman, left his home country of Jamaica in 2016 to create a better life for his future children away from the poverty he witnessed growing up. Williams worked as a retail manager for many years but yearned for something more impactful to be a part of. Joining the Air Force allowed him to work in his preferred field while fulfilling his dreams.

“It was a main aspiration for me to become a citizen in this country,” he said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to be?”

On Nov. 12, 2021, William’s work for a little over a year finally paid off and he officially became a U.S. Citizen.

Airman 1st Class Leizeveil Vann Antonio , 375th CES structural apprentice, was born in the Philippines where she grew up with her grandmother. After talks with her family, Antonio decided the next step for her life was to move to the United States.

Antonio desired independence for herself and found herself joining the Air Force. Her mother along with the military worked together to grant Antonio with her citizenship in a much faster time frame.

“I feel motivated and determined to work hard,” she said. “ I feel accepted and acknowledged, it’s really nice.”

Senior Airman Andres Pacheco, 375th CES water fuel system maintenance journeyman, moved to the United States months after he was born in Ecuador. He lived here on a Visa and after high school, a green card.

Pacheco dreamed of attending college to further his education but without his citizenship, he could not apply for many scholarships. He then chose to join the Air Force for the multitude of opportunities he could receive.

“For me, I’ve always felt pretty American since I’ve been here my entire life,” he said. “ Now it feels like everybody really cares.”

Airman 1st Class Vincent J. Cajipe , 375th LRS air transportation apprentice, is originally from the Phillipines and his father helped him immigrate into the United states in 2007.

Job security and a quality profession was a big goal for Cajipe and he found that through the Air Force. Right after technical training, he began the paperwork to become a U.S. citizen.

“As a military member, the process is expedited,” he said. “ Now, I just feel a sense of freedom because I have so many more opportunities that I didn’t have before I was a citizen.”

After just a little over a year, Cajipe’s Naturalization paperwork was completed on May 17, 2020.

Senior Airman Erryan Licuidine, 375th CES water and fuels systems maintenance, left his home country of the Philippines at the age of 15. He heard the praises that military members received from the public and made the choice to join the Air Force.

He loved the lifestyle that the Air Force had given him and decided he would reenlist. However, one of the requirements to reenlistment is to be a U.S. citizen. It was then that Licuidine began the naturalization process and by August 202, his paperwork was finalized.

“It’s a long waiting game,” he said. “ For me, it was 9-10 months, but it was all worth it.”

Senior Airman Harlyn Truong, 375th LRS traffic management, immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in October 2015 with a sponsorship from her uncle in search of better opportunities and a higher quality of life.

In search of self growth and professional success, Truong joined the Air Force and found herself at Scott Air Force Base. In June 2020, she began the naturalization process and after nine months, her naturalization paperwork was finalized.

“This is a dream come true,” Truong said. “It’s not easy to get the big things like this but I never lost hope or gave up.”

Senior Airman Bryan Blanco Pereira, 375th CES water and fuels systems maintenance, was born and raised in El Salvador surrounded by tropical beaches and friendly people. Pereira explained the harsh conditions in his home town and In 2017, Pereira’s mother brought him to the United states for a new sense of freedom. He was always fascinated with the Air Force culture and decided to join and give back to the country who had given him a new life.

“I felt very committed to this country and very grateful,” he said. “I just wanted to pay something back to them.”

After six month of paperwork and help from his coworkers, Pereira officially became a U.S. citizen.