FORT SILL, OK (KSWO)- It was a dream come true for eight immigrants this morning as they became not only U.S. citizens but soldiers during a naturalization ceremony at Fort-Sill.
Along with those 8 immigrants, around 230 other soldiers graduated from basic training.During the ceremony a demonstration was held to show friends and family what physical training was like, how to fight enemies, and they learned about the different uniforms worn in the Army.
One by one each soldier marched onto the open field, in front of their friends, and family with their heads held high.
Nearly 230 soldiers graduated from basic training and became members of the C-Battery, 1st through 79th Field Artillery Brigade.But for some, Thursday's ceremony meant so much more. For Eight of those soldiers who are immigrants from Columbia, Jamaica, Honduras, South Korea, Mexico, Uruguay, Japan and the Philippines, they became citizens of the United States.
"I am very proud to be an American, an American citizen," said Minto
Born in Jamaica and raised in New York, Private Shantal Minto said today was a dream.
"It's overwhelming, but at the same time I'm just proud to be here," said Minto.
Minto said she joined the Army because she wanted to go to school.
"I found out that the Army can pay a hundred percent for college education, and education means a lot to me. In the future I wish to become a surgeon," said Minto.
For the last 9 weeks, the soldiers had to complete rigorous training that included physical training, learning how to fight enemies and what to do in combat.
"It's like a long time coming, the nine weeks felt so long but now that I'm here it hasn't felt so long, definitely proud to be here, and very proud of myself. I didn't think I could be able to accomplish this," said Garcia Botti.
Private Ignacio Garcia Botti was born in Uruguay and also said its been a dream of his to become a solider and U.S. Citizen.
"Best feeling ever something my mom sacrificed for, I sacrificed a lot of time, I sacrificed my mom's birthday, holidays, a lot of things just to be here for these short nine weeks but now that I'm looking at it it definitely paid off," said Garica Botti.
Garica Botti oldest sister Taitana and Mom Andrea said this day meant a lot to their family.
"Super emotional, happy and very proud," said Garica Botti.
Both Minto and Garcia Botti said they look forward to spending time with family and friends, and eating some good food.
Fort Sill also partnered up with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and had a grand opening ceremony for the USCIS Fort Sill Field Support Office.
The office provides a range of immigration services, including naturalization interviews, permanent resident processing, biometrics and walk-in appointments to members of the military.In 2016, the Oklahoma Field office handled nearly 5-thousand applications and petitions for citizenship.
The leading countries for immigrants that come to Oklahoma are Mexico, Vietnam,Philippines, India, and Burma.District Director Tony Bryson said it's a goal to be able to provide a facility like this to families at Fort Sill.
"It's part of our commitment to the military,and to our nation is to provide services to our service members, and particular those who are giving there lives, supporting out country, our mission is to grant them that citizenship before they go off too battle," said Bryson.
Also at the ceremony directors dedicated the facility, in memory and honor of Captain Jose Calugas. Calugas completed his military service at Fort Sill and received the medal of honor for his heroism during a battle in the Philippines.