Service members sworn in as US citizens aboard USS Rafael Peralta

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CORONADO, Calif. – Ten service members were sworn in as U.S. Citizens Thursday at Naval Air Station North Island.

The naturalization ceremony, which included U.S. Navy sailors and Marines from nine different countries, was held on board the soon-to-be-commissioned USS Rafael Peralta. The destroyer was named after a local Marine Corps sergeant and Navy Cross recipient who proudly protected his comrades in Iraq when he smothered a grenade under his body, killing him instantly.

"He also was an immigrant, he was a sergeant as well. Then being from Mexico too, I’m from Mexico too so I’m honored, I kind of relate too, I guess,” said Sgt. Victor Alejandro Gomez Cuevas.

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Rafael Peralta

Peralta’s family was in attendance and although their heartache never fades, they take pride in his legacy.

“Immigrants becoming U.S. citizens, that’s just part of the story that goes along with my brother. My brother, he wanted nothing more than just to be a U.S. Marine, a United States citizen. So it’s pretty heartfelt, obviously proud,” said Ricardo Peralta.

For many service members receiving their citizenship, it has been a journey and a dream come true.

“Even before I came to the U.S., I admired the U.S. Navy so to me, I’m just living my dream because I always wanted to be part of something bigger,” said U.S. Navy Seaman Elssy Revvs.

The USS Rafael Peralta will be commissioned Saturday.

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