- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Four Iraq war veterans became naturalized U.S. citizens yesterday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff administered the oath of citizenship to Army Pfc. Dwishnicka Randolph, Spc. Angel Regalado-Contreras and Spc. Eduardo Garcia-Gonzalez and Marine Lance Cpl. Carlos Lopes.

Members of the armed services may apply for citizenship under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. They must serve at least one year on active duty and demonstrate good moral character as well as knowledge of the English language, the U.S. government and U.S. history.

Spc. Regalado-Contreras, 26, was a truck driver with the 1st Armored Division on a routine supply run in July when his vehicle was damaged by a roadside bomb and he sustained serious leg injuries. A native of Mexico, he has lived in the U.S. since he was 8.

Pfc. Randolph, 26, a power-generation equipment repair specialist, is undergoing treatment at Walter Reed for a rare type of facial bone tumor. She came to the U.S. in 1986 from Haiti and is married to Cpl. Randy Lee Randolph, who is stationed at Fort Belvoir.

Spc. Garcia-Gonzalez, 21, was diagnosed with kidney failure in July. He is undergoing dialysis at Walter Reed and waiting to be discharged from the Army. The native of Mexico is a member of the 101st Airborne and has lived in the U.S. since he was 3.

Cpl. Lopes, 25, was born in Portugal and came to the U.S. when he was 4. A combat engineer with the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, he sustained multiple fractures, a compressed spine and the loss of most of his teeth when a fellow Marine in full battle gear fell on him from the top of a two-story building in November 2005. He now works as a liaison at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, where he was treated.

The Walter Reed staff helped the soldiers with their citizenship applications, so they said it seemed fitting to take the oath on the hospital’s campus.

Micala Contreras, who has been with her son, Spc. Regalado-Contreras, since he was hospitalized, said she was “muy fuerte” (very proud).

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