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April 22, 2014 > U.S. Citizenship ceremony held for Hayward Veteran

U.S. Citizenship ceremony held for Hayward Veteran

Submitted By Allison Bormel

U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) hosted a citizenship ceremony on April 16 for Hayward resident and veteran Specialist Leslie Jack Smith.

Specialist Smith, 65, was born in Switzerland, moved to the U.S. at age 9, and fought for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. However, he learned this year that he was never granted U.S. citizenship in return for service as he was promised. With Rep. SwalwellÕs involvement, Specialist Smith was granted an expedited path to U.S. citizenship. At the ceremony, he was administered his Citizenship Oath by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) San Francisco Field Office District Director John Kramer and presented his Certificate of Citizenship by Rep. Swalwell.

ÒSpecialist Leslie Smith honorably served his country in the U.S. Army and has more than earned the citizenship he was promised 40 years ago,Ó said Swalwell. ÒI am honored to have helped fix this injustice, and it will be a great moment when Specialist Smith can finally recite the pledge of allegiance as a citizen of the United States.Ó

Specialist Smith lived his adult life thinking he was a U.S. citizen, as he was provided a Social Security Number and took the Oath of Allegiance after serving in the Army. However, when he tried to apply for Social Security benefits this year he came to find out he was not a citizen and was denied benefits. He reached out to Rep. SwalwellÕs office who worked with officials at USCIS to secure expedited processing for Specialist Smith. Specialist Smith passed his citizenship exam on April 8.

During his service in Vietnam, Specialist Smith earned the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and Sharpshooter (Rifle) Badge. He served for three years and was honorably discharged.

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