BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, May 25 (UPI) -- Memorial Day took on a special meaning for 106 U.S. service members who became U.S. citizens Monday while stationed in the Afghan war zone.
The naturalized citizens who stood at attention as trumpeters played the their new national anthem included 94 soldiers, 10 Marines and two sailors from several countries, including Mexico, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea, Armed Forces Press Services said.
"It's very overwhelming, I'm in harm's way every day and have worked very hard to get to this point," said Army Spc. Rhett Cayobit, a Philippine native. "I was very lucky that my unit supported me from Day 1."
Army Sgt. Young Kim, a South Korea native, said it took him eight years to reach this point.
"It's so relieving because now I can bring my family over to the United States," said Kim. "I had to submit my packet four times but now that I have my citizenship. I plan on getting my security clearance and going to Officer Candidate School."
President Barack Obama congratulated them via a video.
"This now officially your country," said Obama. "In America, no dream is impossible. Together we can keep the beacon of America bright enough for all the world to see."
Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commanding general for Combined Joint Task Force-101, told the new citizens they had been afforded a privilege, "but one you've earned."