To be born an American citizen and the many privileges offered in this country can easily be taken for granted. If a crime is committed in our neighborhoods we know the police will respond and an investigation will ensue. We all have a voice to ensure this happens when we vote the leaders into office who make and enforce the laws we all abide by.
Airman Frank Mannington, 56th Contracting Squadron contracting specialist, remembers what life was like in Harare, Zimbabwe.
“We had a fence 15 feet tall surrounding my house, we were one of the few without razor wire on top of the fence,” he said. “The crime rate was high, police didn’t respond and even as a kid I knew not to go out when it was dark.”
After 12 years of effort, the Mannington family was granted permission to come to the United States in 2002. In 2013, he joined the U.S. Air Force and has an older brother who served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Mannington currently has permanent resident status but looks forward to gaining full citizenship here.
“I have been told, if I join the military I will gain U.S. citizenship, but I still have questions that have not yet been answered,” Mannington said.
Few people are fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to relocate and share in the American way of life. Even fewer are willing to put themselves at risk by joining a U.S. military service. The reasons vary from college benefits to patriotic duty. Whatever the reason, it is their choice alone.
Staff Sgt. Perla Tapia Cordero, 69th Fighter Squadron personnel journeyman, received her citizenship May 2011. Born in Mexicali, Mexico, a small town along the California border, Tapia Cordero joined the Air Force Reserve in 2010 so she could obtain her citizenship in one year instead of five.
Currently, Tapia Cordero is a full time student at Arizona State University and on course to graduate spring 2015. On top of going to school she works and does veteran-to-veteran volunteer work at a valley hospice facility. She is also a council member and outreach team liaison for her church. In March, she was named the 10th Air Force Airman of the Year.
Now she wants to help others get their citizenship. “I know when I first joined the military I didn’t know what to do or how to start the process, and I had no help at my first duty station.”
Tapia Cordero will host an informational seminar 11 a.m. to noon June 18 at the 69th Fighter Squadron, Bldg. 976, for those interested in test preparation, resources or any questions concerning how to become a U.S. citizen.
When asked where her motivation comes from, she replied, “It is intrinsic motivation. I always strive for excellence in all that I do, try to help others along the way, make a difference in my community and enjoy seeing happiness in others.”
For more information on being a U.S. citizen, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services military section at www.uscis.gov/military. For more information on the seminar, call Tapia Cordero at 623-856-9771.