Soldier and Citizen the Same Day

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published May 9, 2005

   

Manuel Herrera holds up his right hand as he takes the oath to become an American citizen.

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Manuel Herrera holds up his right hand as he takes the oath to become an American citizen.

SALT LAKE CITY On the same day he became a U.S. citizen, Manuel Herrera also enlisted as the newest member of the Utah Army National Guard’s 144th Area Support Medical Company.

 

Herrera, 39, took the oath of citizenship on April 28 in the Rose Wagner Theatre in Salt Lake City. His Guard enlistment ceremony took place at the Utah National Guard’s Draper headquarters that same day.

 

Herrera, a Lehi resident and Petatlán, Mexico, native, fulfilled two important goals by taking these two oaths: Becoming a citizen of the nation he has called home for 13 years and receiving training that will qualify him as an Army medic.

 

Sgt. 1st Class Brett Hardcastle, a Utah National Guard recruiter, pointed out that just a month ago, Herrera, 39, could not have enlisted at his age.

 

“The age limit for enlisting in the Guard used to be 35. Now that the limit has been raised to 39, more people like Manuel have an opportunity to serve their country,” he said.

 

Hardcastle said that Herrera qualified for a $10,000 enlistment bonus, $17,568 for college, and will receive medical training as a 91W—the Army designation for combat medic—at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, after he completes Basic Training.

 

Once he returns from his initial Army training, the money for college will help Herrera to reach his career goal of becoming a registered nurse.

 

Herrera is thrilled at the opportunity his country and the National Guard are providing him. “It will not only help me with my career goal, but as a nurse I can also help other people like me who are new to our country and can’t speak English,” he said.

 

And with the change in the maximum age for enlistment, money for college, and bonuses, others like Herrera can make a midlife career change with a lot of help from the Guard.

Manuel Herrera holds up his right hand as he takes his oath to become a member of the Utah National Guard.

Photo by Spc. Kelly K. Collett

Manuel Herrera holds up his right hand as he takes his oath

to become a member of the Utah National Guard.