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Airman turns citizen

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Einer Cardenas, 21st Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, poses for a picture moments after becoming a U.S. citizen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airman 1st Class Einer Cardenas, 21st Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, poses for a picture moments after becoming a U.S. citizen. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

FORT CARSON, Colo. -- All stood in silence as seven service members and two military spouses raised their right hands to take the oath of citizenship at a small ceremony held at Fort Carson.

Among them was Airman 1st Class Einer Cardenas, 21st Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician and native-born citizen of Belize, Central America.

"My mother was a single mom; she worked her whole life cleaning houses, so I grew up fairly poor in Dallas," said Cardenas.

Cardenas' mother fled the country of Belize with her four children to escape an abusive situation. Cardenas was still a baby when his family began their life in Texas.

Learning from his older brother's mistakes, Cardenas made the decision to rise above the disadvantages and challenges of his life.

"I saw my brother go down a path that I didn't want to go down. He got into drugs, went to jail and ended up getting deported back to Belize," said Cardenas. "I wanted to go the other way; I wanted to go to school."

Even though Cardenas' attempts were met with obstacles, he was committed to succeeding.

"It was hard with a single mom. I didn't have any scholarships going for me so I was going to community college full-time and working full-time. In 2011 I started looking into the military," said Cardenas.

"I originally wanted to join the Marines; my mom cleaned houses and a lot of her customers were former military and they had all told me the same thing over and over--'if I could have done it all over again, I would have joined the Air Force,'" Cardenas said with a laugh.

It took nearly six years for Cardenas to obtain his Green Card before joining the Air Force and a little more than three months to earn his citizenship once becoming a service member.

"If I had not joined the military, it would have taken at least five years of being a resident (after getting his Green Card) until I could have applied to be a citizen," said Cardenas.

Cardenas' mother and siblings still live in Dallas and are very proud of all of his accomplishments.

"I plan on making this a career, maybe not in the medical side, but definitely staying in the Air Force for sure," Cardenas said when talking about his future plans. "It feels like this is the beginning, the beginning of greater things to come," he added.

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