Moody Airman earns U.S. citizenship -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Moody Airman earns U.S. citizenship

August 20, 2003

Lowndes County -- Thousands of troops are deployed overseas defending our freedom. But not all of them are U.S. citizens. According to the Department of Defense, more than 37,000 members of our military are non-citizens.

Airmen 1st Class Luis Iriazzy is one of those. He loves serving in the United States Air Force. "It's wonderful," said Iriazzy. "I should've joined a lot earlier."

He spends his days working as a mechanic with Moody's Logistics Readiness Squadron. "I fix and maintain the refueling vehicles," said Iriazzy.

But life wasn't always so easy. Nine years ago, he and his family were living in Cuba. "You didn't have any choices and everything was decided for you," said Iriazzy.

So Iriazzy and 18 other Cubans loaded onto a 12 by six foot raft powered by a motorcycle engine, and set sail for Florida. "We were up and then down on about 10 foot high waves."

Their journey turned out to be a 22 hour trip to freedom. "We were all excited and everyone was jumping saying 'We're here!'," said Iriazzy.

Everyone on Iriazzy's raft made it to the states, but others weren't so lucky. "When we were out there we could hear people screaming and calling for help."

Last month, he officially became a U.S. citizen. "Now I can re-enlist, and I'm really excited about traveling."

And even though he's yet to be deployed, he's eager to defend his new country. "It would be the least I can do, to go out and defend the wonderful things we have here," said Iriazzy.

Iriazzy says he wasn't sure if his family would make it through that night on the water, but living in the land of opportunity was worth the long journey.

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