One LAAFB Airman’s journey to U.S. citizenship

  • Published
  • By Kevin Gonzalez, SSC Public Affairs

An Airman serving on Los Angeles Air Force Base recently earned his United States citizenship.

Airman 1st Class Abdurrahman T. Firat, aerospace medical technician, 61st Medical Squadron, passed the naturalization test and interview, then took the Oath of Allegiance on Sept. 19, 2023.

“I was really proud of myself for accomplishing something I really wanted for a long time,” proclaimed Firat. “I was full of joy and felt like I fulfilled a part of my dream.”

His journey to America began from Turkey, where as a child he grew up living near Incirlik Air Base. He experienced American culture during visits to the base for events and holidays, and it made a tremendous impression on him.

“I fell in love with the culture and the military in general and wanted to be a part of it from a young age,” shared Firat. His sister and brother-in-law serve in the U.S. Air Force, so he benefitted through the years from their input about military service.

Eventually he applied for a visa and when it was approved, he was ready to visit America for the first time. His father was living in Wichita Falls, Texas and invited him to stay with him. “In April 2021, I boarded a series of airplane flights to come here,” exclaimed Firat. “The journey was a little confusing because my English was not fully developed, but I made it to my new home!”

He quickly adjusted to life in America, and his relatives encouraged him to join the military and advised on possible career fields to consider. So, at the first chance he applied to join the USAF and was accepted.

“I always had a sense of what military service was like and wanted to be a part of it,” said Firat. “In my opinion, the military service is to be a part of something that is bigger than any single person, it is an idea: idea of freedom, idea of liberty, and idea of doing what is right.”

Many can understand the call to serve and for those who also choose the healthcare profession, the desire to help others is especially strong. A1C Firat began serving on LAAFB in February 2023 and is committed to excellence in his role with the 61st MDS, whose mission is to provide ready, reliable care – anytime, anywhere.

As an Aerospace Medical Technician, he assists doctors and healthcare providers with patient care in a wide range of situations, from administering immunizations to assisting in evacuation missions. “I enjoy talking with people, understanding their struggles, being part of their recovery process and putting a smile on their faces in those hard times,” described Firat.

He enjoyed the celebration his squadron held on his behalf and greatly appreciated all the support through the process. “I applied through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, completed all the requirements and also had my commander’s signature,” explained Firat. “It was smooth and easy; I just trusted the process.”

If a military member is applying for citizenship, the USCIS requires a form N-426 be signed by their commander, to prove military service. In FY2022, the USCIS reported naturalizing more than 10,600 military service members.

As a testament to his adaptation to military life, he recently won the Dorm of the Quarter award. “We are all very proud of A1C Firat and I am honored to serve with him and support his efforts to achieve U.S. citizenship,” stated Col. Vina "Liz" Howarth, commander, 61st MDS. “He truly is an outstanding member of our team and has already received 16 positive customer comment cards.”

Reflecting on the journey he feels very blessed to be here and shared his amazement with the people, places, food, history, and culture he experiences daily. “I want to say that I am happy to be part of this country and military. I hope everyone can fulfill their dreams like I did,” expressed Firat. He concluded with advice to those who are also pursuing their citizenship, “good luck and have faith.”