NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nev. --
It’s been eight years since the 9/11 attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans, and each year on the anniversary of that fateful day millions gather in memory of those departed.
But for Lance Cpl. Thang Doan, an administrative clerk with Headquarters Company aboard the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., the day will forever have a new meaning and importance in his heart.
Doan, a native of Nha Trang, Vietnam, became a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony at the station’s annual air show here Sept. 11.
“I am so happy to be a citizen now,” Doan said. “I can’t think of a more perfect place to become an American.”
Patriotism engulfed the air station. Several patrons donned their best sets of red, white and blue attire to attend the ceremony that was followed by a performance by the Blue Angels, the Navy flight demonstration team.
John Kramar, the district director for the Arizona and Nevada U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the atmosphere was just right for the ceremony.
“This is a fantastic event for the naturalization of Lance Cpl. Doan,” said Kramar, a Phoenix, Ariz., native. “This is the first time we’ve had a ceremony during an air show.”
Lance Cpl. Grant Burger, an administrative clerk who works with Doan, attended the ceremony and said Doan is a good Marine and American with or without the citizenship certificate.
“He’s a hard worker and really knows how to put his nose to the grind stone,” said Burger, a Warren, Ohio, native. “I was honored to be at his ceremony today. I’m proud of him.”
Doan said the process of becoming a citizen didn’t take as long as he thought it would.
“I started the package in April,” Doan said. “So it only took six months for everything to be finished with my paperwork.”
Doan first came to America in 2007 and said it was a huge culture shock.
“In my village we didn’t have any cars or fast food places and stuff like that,” he said. “We had our own chickens and grew all our own vegetables. Our only transportation was bicycles and scooters.”
Doan and his family moved in with his grandmother, who has lived in America for several years.
Doan said one of the first places he went when he got to America was McDonald’s to get “a real American cheese burger.”
He said attending his local church helped him overcome the language barrier. Thanks to the support of volunteers, he said he quickly learned to speak English.
“They worked with me all the time,” said Doan with a smile. “It didn’t take long before I could speak English a little bit, but I still need to get a lot better.”
Doan joined the Marine Corps July of last year and said it is something he wanted to do ever since he came to America.
“I wanted to join the military to have a better life for myself, and now I do,” he said.