By Daryl C. Smith, Public Affairs Officer, 1st Naval Construction Division
After submitting his application for U.S. citizenship and completing the required exam, Equipment Operator Constructionman Recruit Jiang Liu had been waiting for months for the official notification that he was ready to take the oath of allegiance and become a U.S. citizen. When the call finally came on March 21, it came with a very special surprise – an invitation to the White House to receive the oath and meet the President.
A member of Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202, based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek/Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Va., Liu was one of 28 people from 26 countries invited to take part in the naturalization ceremony March 25 at the White House. He was one of 13 active duty service members participating.
“At first I was nervous. Then I was excited,” Liu said.
Born in China, Liu immigrated to the U.S. six years ago with his parents, who now live in San Francisco. When he called them to tell them of the White House invitation, “They were very happy and proud of me,” he said.
His road to citizenship began when he enlisted in the Navy. He was given the choice of various specialties, but “equipment operator was the most interesting for me, so I joined the Seabees,” he said. He completed “A” School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was assigned to CBMU 202, where he has worked the past six months.
Fellow Seabees supported Liu’s quest for U.S. citizenship by helping him study topics such as language, U.S. history and government, and to prepare for his exam after working hours. His biggest supporter was his immediate supervisor, Equipment Operator 2nd Class Benjamin Morrow.
Morrow noted that Liu’s paperwork had been delayed since the Office of Homeland Security mistakenly sent it to Mississippi instead of Virginia, but if the delay had not happened, he would not have had the opportunity to go to the White House. Because the phone call came on Thursday, March 21, and the ceremony was the following Monday morning, CBMU 202 had to work fast to make arrangements for him to attend.
“This command made it a priority to get him up there,” Morrow said. Due to the short fuse, only one member of the unit could accompany him, and that was Morrow. Although he had been to Washington D.C., Liu had not. So he made it a point to show him as many landmarks as possible when they arrived on Sunday.
“We went to museums, the Vietnam Memorial, Navy Memorial and Lincoln Memorial,” Liu said.