Triangle, Va. -- U.S. Marine Sgt. Gustavo A. Arroliga, a recruiter at Recruiting Sub-Station Woodbridge took the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps Nov. 10, 2014. The ceremony was even more significant for Arroliga because it fell on the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps.
“It is an honor to be accepted as a U.S. naturalized citizen and to represent this nation,” said Arroliga.
Arroliga is originally from Nicaragua. His mother brought him to the U.S. to pursue a better life when he was two-years-old.
“I learned and lived the American way – with liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” said Arroliga. “Many Americans fought to be free. I said to myself, ‘Why can’t I give back to this nation that has given me and my family so much?’”
Arroliga joined the Marine Corps in 2007 and since then, he has served honorably in the U.S. and overseas, participating in three operations while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.
At the time of his enlistment, Arroliga did not need to complete his naturalization because he was a green card holder and his job did not require a security clearance. According to Executive Order 12968, “Access to Classified Information,” eligibility for access to classified information may only be granted to United States citizens.
In January 2013 he attended Basic Recruiter School, and that April he was stationed with Recruiting Station Frederick at RSS Woodbridge in Virginia, as a canvassing recruiter. However, before he could become a recruiter, he needed to obtain a security clearance and so he was required to become a naturalized citizen.
After passing a one hundred question test and getting all the appropriate signatures, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services called to let him know he had been accepted and he was able to choose a date.
“Of course I picked the ceremony they had on Nov. 10, 2014. It is on my birthday as a Marine,” said Arroliga.
Arroliga said that he was honored to be asked to lead the pledge of allegiance which is recited after the oath.
His wife Laura and mother Mercedes Lopez attended the ceremony.
“It was beautiful,” said Laura. “I know my husband has wanted to do it for a long time, and this will make a better life for him and for us.”
Arroliga will now be able to apply for his security clearance, granting him more access to programs for his job and opening up more opportunities in the Marine Corps.