Category: Archive

Korea vets aim for citizenship by March 17

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

“We are trying to fill out and send the necessary applications in by March 17,” John Leahy, a member of the campaign said.
The necessary N-644 forms are issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and cost $80 each.
But the cost of each application is going to be picked up by the Boston-based Irish American Partnership, according to General P.X. Kelley, retired commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and an active participant in the posthumous citizenship campaign.
Kelley is also planning to submit completed application forms to the Veterans Administration.
The hope is that the VA will be able to fill in any information on the forms that family members of the deceased do not have and then forward it to the INS.
“A lot of information is not available, but if this can be done at all it will be done by the Veterans Administration, and hopefully by March 17,” Kelley said from his office in Washington, D.C.
One potential problem, according to Kelley, is that many army service records were lost in a fire at a storage warehouse in St. Louis a few years ago.
“That fire destroyed a lot,” he said.
The long-running campaign to secure posthumous citizenship for the dead Irish nationals recently took on new life when President Bush signed a Justice Department authorization bill that included the posthumous citizenship provision.
The passage of the legislation prompted Senator Charles Schumer to offer his office as a conduit for applications.
“The senator is very eager to help shepherd the applications through the INS,” Schumer spokesman Martin Brennan said. “Hopefully, the INS will then process the forms in an expedited manner.”
He added that Schumer was ready to help families no matter where they were. They did not have to be in the senator’s home state, New York.
The task now for Leahy, Kelley, Schumer and those others intent on seeing the campaign through to final success is to secure the necessary information, or as much as they can, from the families of the dead soldiers. Those families are scattered throughout the U.S. and in Ireland.
A special website listing those Irish who died serving the U.S. in the 1950-53 conflict lists 29 men from counties Cork, Mayo, Kerry, Limerick, Roscommon, Longford, Leitrim, Galway, Antrim, Tipperary and Louth.
According to Alexandria, Va.-based Brian McGinn, who runs the website, two of the 29 were already U.S. citizens when they were killed.
“That leaves 27 eligible for posthumous citizenship,” McGinn said.
He said that it was still possible that the identities of other Irish nationals killed in Korea, and who would qualify for citizenship, might yet become known.

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