Bruce Willis and Deuce Four

Do you Deserve Your Citizenship?

Ask yourself that question.

Sergeant Walter Gaya from Deuce Four (recon scout/sniper) is from Argentina and not an American citizen.  Just days before he was to become one, he was wounded.  And a bureaucratic nightmare begins.

Vet Who Photographed Iraq Loses Sight


...the vision remains impaired he can only make out shapes and light and billboard-size letters, he said. At this point, Gaya is considering a cornea transplant.

The wound has turned his life upside down.

When Gaya returned to Fort Lewis, he joined other injured soldiers assigned to odd jobs around the base. With his impaired vision, his days as a sniper were over.

Some days he would help move furniture around; other times he would prepare barracks for the return of the battalion.

The attack had also upturned other parts of his life. The Argentina-born immigrant, who moved to the United States as a child, was injured just eight days before he was to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a ceremony in Iraq.

Now, he's in a bureaucratic black hole: Federal immigration officials wouldn't renew his permanent resident card or tell him when he could reschedule the swearing-in ceremony. No one at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office could tell him what to do next to get his citizenship papers, or even how to renew his immigration documents.

One day, as he was moving furniture at Fort Lewis, he found a copy of an old newspaper with a photograph of soldiers at the citizenship ceremony in Iraq that he had missed.

He tossed it aside and kept working.

After several surgeries and countless doctor's visits, the vision in Gaya's left eye still is blurry and distorted, as if he's opening his eyes underwater.

"Now that I have all this scar tissue built up, it's very difficult to see because the light is being refracted," he said.

But his right eye is uninjured, and Gaya believes he can still shoot pictures despite a loss of peripheral vision.

"I don't think it hindered my passion for photography one bit," he said. "I've always been not much of a quitter kind of guy. Did it wear on me? It did at first a little bit. But I primarily use my right eye, so by no means is it going to slow me down at all ever."

Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, Gaya's commanding officer who also returned to Fort Lewis after being wounded in Mosul, called Gaya a "quiet professional. He's the type of soldier that every commander wished he had a hundred of."...

Sondra K at Knowledge Is Power is all over thisMike Yon is helping out.  And we could use your help in pushing the Powers That Be to help Sergeant Gaya.  Especially, if you live in Washington state, we need your help with mobilizing Washington's Congressmen, Senators and Governor. 

It's the least we could do for a genuine hero that deserves to be an American.

Update:  Common Sense Run Wild has more on this, too.

Update:  Mike Yon, via Sondra K, says that the citizenship issue is under control.  Thanks to all for your concern about Sergeant Gaya!