CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – --
Marine Corps Installations Pacific hosted a naturalized ceremony May 17 at the Ocean Breeze aboard Camp Foster.
A correspondent with Marine Corps Installations Pacific Communications Strategy and Operations office sat down with Sgt. Nelson Sigrah, a warehouse chief with Headquarters Regiment, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, and an American naturalized citizen.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born and raised in Micronesia. In 2008 I left home to go to college in Guam. I was there until 2010. While I was there the Marine recruiter came to the University of Guam. I watched them set up the pullup bar. The recruiter called me out to do pullups and the rest was history.
Q. Why did you join the Marine Corps?
A. I didn’t join for the challenge. That’s what most people join for but me, I joined to travel. Since I joined, the Corps has allowed me to travel and deploy to many different countries.
Q. Why did you choose to become a citizen while in the Marine Corps?
A. In 2012, I was stationed at Camp Kinser. I checked my Marine Online and saw that it said I was a citizen, but at the time I wasn’t. I spoke to my non-commissioned officer and they asked me if I wanted to become one. I figured, I joined to help give back to the country that has helped my homeland since before I was born. I wanted to give back to the country that gave to mine. After I thought that, I realized that I wanted to belong to the country. I wanted to be an American. I want to serve in the Marines and be an American.
Q. When did you start the naturalization process?
A. I asked my NCO when I was stationed at Camp Kinser and he didn’t know what I needed to do so it was put off. When I got back to the states in 2014, I asked my gunnery sergeant and he helped me find what I needed but the places I needed to go were off base. I didn’t have a car at the time so it was hard getting to them. When I returned to Okinawa it was easier.
Q. Why was it easier to go through the naturalization process while in Okinawa?
A. It was easier because in the states the resources and places to go for the process was spread out. Okinawa has all the places I needed close by and I was able to complete the process in three months.
Q. Was the process challenging to complete?
A. It wasn’t challenging at all. There is a checklist that the Installation Personnel Administration Center will give for naturalization. This list can be complete without trouble.
Q. What were the steps you had to go through?
A. The checklist that IPAC gave me had things like getting an updated photo, finger prints and a copy of my military history. I got endorsements from my command and interviewed by Naval Criminal Investigative Services. All the steps are straight forward and easy to complete. When I finished the checklist and compiled all my paperwork I returned to IPAC. They looked over my packet and double-checked that I had everything. When that was finished I sent it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service in Seoul, Korea.
Q. What advice would you give to your fellow Marines about the naturalization process?
A. If they can (when they are in the delayed entry program), have the recruiter start the process for them. That way they can be naturalized at their graduation of recruit training. If they cannot do that or if they were in a situation like me, then as soon as they can start the process they should. I also recommend that unit commands learn about the naturalization process to help inform their Marine that may wish to become naturalized.