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Servicemen gain U.S. Citizenship

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 01:20:14-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - Ten service members were sworn in as United States citizens Thursday in a ceremony on the USS Rafael Peralta.

The ship, which will be commissioned on Saturday, is named after Sgt. Rafael Peralta. A Mexican citizen at birth, Peralta was naturalized after enlisting in the Marine Corps.

In 2004, Peralta was killed in Iraq after he jumped on a grenade to save his fellow Marines.

Jorge Barrala was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when he was one-year-old. He's now 25, and a sergeant in the Marine Corps.

"It's a privilege, being here, not a lot of people get to have this big of an event when they get naturalized, being here today is a big honor," Barrala said. "(I'm) pretty excited.  Procrastinated a long time so I'm glad I'm finally here."

A member of the Peralta family was present for the ceremony.

Sgt. Peralta's sister Icela say his dream was to be a Marine.

"The day he got his green card," she said. "That afternoon he went and signed up."

She says the ship isn't just an honor for her family, but a testament to her late brother's service to his country.

"Ships aren't built for anyone," she said. "It's usually presidents and generals. So, after my brother...it was an honor."

The USS Rafael Peralta holds a crew of 300. The commanding officer tells 10News the crew will likely be deployed to Japan.