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16 December 2013

Proud World War II Veteran Naturalizes at Age 96


After having lived in the United States for over 90 years, Felix Garcia officially became a U.S. citizen at age 96 this past month. Born in Mazatlan, Mexico in 1917, Mr. Garcia's parents brought him to the United States when he was just 3 years old.

He always felt himself to be an American, and served as a decorated gunner on a B-24 Liberator during World War II. He served on bombing missions over Italy, France and the Balkans in some of the most dangerous and terrifying combat roles imaginable. As a gunner, he was locked into a round glass turret protruding from the bottom of a large, lumbering aircraft flying in formation thousands of feet over enemy territory.

World War II: Felix Garcia (circled) at Gunnery School

World War II: Felix Garcia (circled) at Gunnery School

"We had to fight German airplanes because they were attacking us." "We also got hit by flak…I had so many friends that I lost." "Our plane had guns on the top, bottom, front and side…you are so scared at that moment for yourself and your fellow guys who are up there."  On one mission, a fellow gunner in one of the glass turrets was struck and killed instantly by enemy fire.  Still in midair, young Garcia had to replace his fallen comrade, despite the blood and fear all around. On another mission, his plane was damaged so badly that it was forced to crash-land. After the war, Mr. Garcia found it difficult to ever board another aircraft. 

Felix Garcia in Uniform

Felix Garcia in Uniform

When asked how it felt to be an American citizen, Garcia replies: "To me, I always felt like an American, and I belong here and I was ready to do anything for the United States. If I had to do it again - at my age 96 - I would do it again - right away."

After the war, Mr. Garcia came home and worked as a truck driver and in a foundry. His daughter Irene recounts how he once broke his ribs in a work accident. Unable to pay for medical care, he just taped up his ribs, endured the pain, and kept going to work to support his wife and children. 

As a retired senior over 90 years of age, and with a lifetime of work and service behind him, his family realized that he had never received his citizenship documents during the war. They were able to piece together his wartime service records and get his citizenship application processed with help from USCIS officers and other government officials, despite important records having been lost to fire. During his naturalization ceremony, he received special recognition as a veteran, and finally became a citizen of the country that he so loves.

Felix Garcia, with a Copy of the “Naturalization Oath” and Flag in Hand, a Proud U.S. Citizen

Felix Garcia, with a Copy of the “Naturalization Oath” and Flag in Hand, a Proud U.S. Citizen

When he talks of his family, Mr. Garcia beams with pride: "My grandchildren are beautiful, and my great-grandchildren all of them!"

His wife, Josephine, who passed away last year and did not live to see him become a citizen, is remembered by him with great adoration, "she was beautiful, intelligent and always supported me."

Felix Garcia with His Wife Josephine and Black Chevy after the War

Felix Garcia with His Wife Josephine and Black Chevy after the War

He calls the American flag his own. Near his home, there is an American flag and a California state flag flying beneath it on a flag-pole. "I call them mine. I go every morning, I sit under those flags, fold my hands, and I talk to my wife. I tell her hello, I still love her, and she is a beautiful woman."

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17 Comments:

At December 17, 2013 at 12:06:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great story about a great man! As a family member, I am a bit biased of course. Grandpa taught me and many in our family what it meant to be a man, and how important family is in our lives. Hopefully those lesson can be remembered.

 
At December 17, 2013 at 4:04:00 PM EST , OpenID Vance Facundo said...

This is an amazing tale that a lot of hispanic families can relate too. My dad received his high school diploma last year after servig 40 plus years in the armed services.

 
At December 18, 2013 at 5:41:00 PM EST , Anonymous Alfred said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing

 
At December 19, 2013 at 7:30:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Mr. Garcia. Your citizenship was earned and well deserved. Thanks for your service.

 
At December 19, 2013 at 3:22:00 PM EST , Blogger EXTREME VELOCITY said...

A real Hero. Our country was, is and will be Free, because of such bravery. Thanks to all those who stay vigilant and are serving the United States of America.

 
At December 20, 2013 at 10:24:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great American and love story. Congratulatons Mr. Garcia.

 
At December 20, 2013 at 12:40:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Mr. Garcia. Thank you for your service, patriotism, and example as a great American. I wish you and your family the very best.

 
At December 20, 2013 at 2:42:00 PM EST , Blogger EXTREME VELOCITY said...

Although I sympathiz with many action hero's, it is our US-American Veterans I truly admire. I am amazed and thankful for their courage and valor. Cases like this one, reflects the True America.
Thank You

 
At December 22, 2013 at 6:26:00 AM EST , Anonymous Walter Keble said...

It is the best Christmas gift they could give to this veteran. He fought for this country and he deserves to be a part of it as any other veteran who gave their life and endager themself to defend american territory during World War II.

 
At January 7, 2014 at 12:25:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious which foundry he worked at...my father served foundries as a salesman selling raw materials. My father would have been 96 last year; their paths may have crossed. That would be something. I am so proud of my father and Mr. Garcia.

 
At January 23, 2014 at 5:35:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

just goes to show you how a Mexican brought to America as an infant can accomplish and how they can love and give their life for this country. imagine the greatness America could miss out if todays young, illegal Mexicans are not given an opportunity to succeed. lets pass amnesty.

 
At January 29, 2014 at 11:18:00 AM EST , Anonymous Medycyna estetyczna Wrocław said...

Touching story. Glory to the heroes !!!

 
At January 30, 2014 at 3:08:00 PM EST , Anonymous Alfredo Lozano said...

This is a wonderful story. His citizenship is well deserved.

 
At January 30, 2014 at 3:33:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great story,however, what a shame that this man never got his citizenship until the age of 96, even though he had sworn to uphold an defend the constitution of the united states simply because he loved this country. What a travesty when there are so many men an women who love this country an are willing to serve in the armed forces. Compared to those who do not serve their own country an are citizens. I personally think that those who serve SHOULD be made Americans simply because they believe in the freedoms an democracy that the USA has to offer, an the willingness to lay down their lives for what they believe in if it should come to that. There ought to be a Law that states, any man or woman that voluntarily enlists in any one of the American Armed Forces,an who has sworn to defend this nation should automatically be allowed to become an American Citizen!

 
At February 7, 2014 at 4:58:00 AM EST , Anonymous Mahendra said...

Its a really very amazing tale that a lot of hispanic families can relate too. My dad received his high school diploma last year after serving many years in the armed services.

 
At February 8, 2014 at 5:05:00 AM EST , Anonymous Muhammad Hassan said...

Very touching and beautiful story. Salute to the heroes !!!

 
At March 21, 2014 at 10:17:00 PM EDT , Anonymous frank said...

It is the best Christmas gift they could give to this veteran. He fought for this country and he deserves to be a part of it as any other veteran who gave their life and endager themself to defend american territory during World War II.

 

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