San Diego

Service Members Naturalized Aboard Navy's Newest Guided-Missile Destroyer

The destroyer is named after Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a naturalized immigrant killed in Iraq in 2004.

Ten service members from nine countries became U.S. citizens aboard the U.S. Navy's newly minted guided-missile destroyer. 

USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be commissioned after a week of events on Saturday. The ship will be homeported at Naval Base San Diego. 

The destroyer is named after Sergeant Peralta, a naturalized immigrant killed in Iraq in 2004. 

Peralta's sister, Icela, said seeing the service members naturalized aboard the destroyer was moving. 

"It’s a beautiful place, there couldn’t be no better place, because they’re all serving members," she said. "It's just a great example for all immigrants from all countries, that you just have to focus and do what you want to do, there’s no limits."

James McCament, who helped conduct he naturalization ceremony, said Thursday's ceremony was a special honor. 

"It's always special to conduct a military naturalization ceremony, but to do so here, on the deck of the soon-to-be commissioned USS Rafael Peralta, which is an honor of course, of an immigrant who gave his life to our country on the field of battle, is particularly moving to do so," he explained. 

Icela said it has been an honor to see the ship from when it was all parts and pieces through to completion. 

"Now seeing my brother – he never came back – but whenever I got to see this ship coming to San Diego, I know he came back to San Diego in spirit, and he’s protecting our country," she said.

The destroyer will have a crew of more than 300 sailors. The boat will be commissioned on Saturday. 

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