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U.S. troops spend Fourth re-enlisting

By Robert H. Reid

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD - Hundreds of U.S. troops marked the Fourth of July by re-enlisting Wednesday while others took oaths of American citizenship in ceremonies at the main U.S. headquarters in Iraq.

A total of 588 troops signed up for another stint, according to a U.S. military statement, while 161 soldiers became naturalized American citizens. The ceremonies took place at Camp Victory, the sprawling American headquarters at the western end of the Iraqi capital.

'No bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you has made and continues to make as a custodian of our nation's defenses,' the top U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, told the audience.

Petraeus dedicated the Independence Day ceremony to the memory of two soldiers who were killed in action before they could be sworn in as citizens. They were Sgt. Kimel Watt, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., a native of Jamaica who was killed June 3 in Baghdad, and Spc. Farid Elazzouzi of Paterson, N.J., who died June 14 in a bombing near Kirkuk. Elazzouzi was born in Morocco.