Military members among 65 of America’s newest citizens after Tampa Bay ceremony

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The land of the free and home of the brave just got a little bigger. 

Sixty-five people from over 20 different countries became America’s newest citizens on Thursday at the USCIS Tampa field office.

Five of those who took the Oath of Allegiance were members of the military. One is an Army reservist and four are currently stationed at MacDill Air Force Base. 

“This is the country that has given me a great opportunity in my career and I always wanted to be a U.S. citizen,” Harish Reddy Mukala said.

Mukala, a specialist in the Army, is from India. He says the naturalization process took him nearly three and a half years.

Olardo Lawrence, a Jamaica native, was also sworn in Thursday. He says he’s proud to officially be a citizen for the country he currently serves.

“Persons or citizens from Jamaica always come to the United States to find grander opportunities, so that was always meaningful to me,” Lawrence said. “I am happy that it culminated this way with me being in the uniform and receiving it on a special day and special occasion for Veterans Day.”

The citizenship candidates originate from the following 23 countries: Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Moldova, Philippines, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam. 

According to the USCIS, the agency naturalized 833,000 people in the 2019 fiscal year – an 11-year high in new oaths of citizenship. 

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