NJ Guardsman Earns Citizenship

By U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ryan DeCamp Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards says the oath of renunciation and allegiance during a naturalisation ceremony Sept. 28. Edwards is an infantryman and is currently deployed as part of the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team. He is assigned to the 2nd Battalion 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards says the oath of renunciation and allegiance during a naturalization ceremony Sept. 28. Edwards is an infantryman and is currently deployed as part of the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team. He is assigned to the 2nd Battalion 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - When Cardon Edwards came to the United States with his mother from Jamaica, the 13-year-old couldn’t imagine he would fight for the country he was heading to.

Seven years later, the now 20-year-old is doing much more than that. Not only is he a private first class in the U.S. Army, he now has a much greater title - American.

Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards joined 44 other U.S. Soldiers and Marines from 25 countries in a naturalization ceremony to become American citizens at Bagram Airfield Sept. 28.

“It’s a relief, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Edwards said. “My parents are happy to see the steps I’ve taken and the road I’ve come down, in joining the Army and becoming a citizen.”

His family knows what he’s going through. His mother earned her U.S. citizenship two years ago. He couldn’t go through the same process because he had already turned 18, he said.

The ceremony comes during Edwards’ first deployment. The infantryman from the 2nd Battalion 113th Infantry Regiment of the New Jersey Army National Guard, is now deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team.

The PRT’s main job is to help bring the different levels of government and the province’s 400,000 residents together. This way, their futures involve peaceful leadership and development, not insurgency under groups like the Taliban.

Edwards and the rest of his security team from the New Jersey Army National Guard help make sure the meetings that help move the governance process can happen safely for coalition members and Afghans.

“I have worked with Private 1st Class Edwards since August 2010 to train for this deployment and what I’ve seen is that though he’s a younger soldier, he has the maturity of a seasoned non-commissioned officer,” said 1st Lt. John Cossolini, 2-113 platoon leader. “He’s mentally strong and physically tough. He has unlimited potential and I see him becoming one of our steadfast NCOs very soon.”

Experience is a trait of many NCOs. Edwards said this deployment is helping him gain that, which is one of the reasons he joined the military.

“This deployment hasn’t been that bad, I’ve gotten to experience the different cultures and people, I like it so far,” he said.

Though there’s a significant difference between U.S. and Afghan cultures that this deployment is showing him, Edwards said he didn’t notice a huge difference between the U.S. and Jamaica. He said he will take advantage of some of the differences he has noticed between where he was born and the new country he’s now a citizen of.

“There’s more opportunities in the U.S. of course, with better jobs, schools and universities,” he said. “When the deployment is over I’ll head back to school using the G.I. Bill to continue working on an associates in accounting. Then I’ll move on to a bachelor’s degree.”

His platoon leader had nothing but good things to say about one of his most junior soldiers, who was promoted to private first class just six months ago.

“He has always displayed the motivation and dedication of an infantryman, I could not ask for more from this young troop - he constantly gives 100 percent effort,” Cossolini said. “I have never seen his motivation, his trust in his fellow soldiers or his will to fight for his country waiver.”

If anyone had doubt before, that’s gone. America is Edwards’ country.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards receives a coin from Brig. Gen. Les J. Carroll, 4th Sustainment Command commander, as part of a naturalization ceremony here Sept. 28. Edwards was one of 45 Soldiers and Marines from 25 different countries who earned their U.S. citizenship during the event. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards receives
a coin from Brig. Gen. Les J. Carroll, 4th Sustainment Command commander, as part
of a naturalization ceremony here Sept. 28. Edwards was one of 45 Soldiers and
Marines from 25 different countries who earned their U.S. citizenship during the event.
(Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction
Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards says the oath of renunciation and allegiance during a naturalization ceremony Sept. 28. Edwards is an infantryman and is currently deployed as part of the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team. He is assigned to the 2nd Battalion 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Private 1st Class Cardon Edwards says the oath of renunciation and allegiance during a naturalization ceremony Sept. 28. Edwards is an infantryman and is currently deployed as part of the Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team. He is assigned to the 2nd Battalion 113th Infantry Regiment, New Jersey Army National Guard. (Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Makenzie Lang, Paktika Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs)

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