It was July 1967. Pawlukiewicz was a 21-year-old U.S. Army specialist with B Company, 34th Engineering Battalion.
He’d been drafted in 1966. Once he got to Vietnam, he learned there was a naturalization office in Guam. So he mailed in a request to U.S. immigration offices: could he take leave to become a citizen?
The letter back was his first no.
“Sorry, but you have to have six months residency in Guam before you can apply,” the government responded.
That was almost 51 years ago. His latest rejection came last year, when the Chicago immigration office denied his paperwork because he’d entered dates in the European, not American, format.
His sister Georgia Ackerman helped him with that most recent request. After it, too, was rejected, she wrote to Military Times, enraged.
“I just want to ensure that someone receives his application and reviews it according to the laws of the United States,” Ackerman said. “The man is 71 years old and has had strokes, heart attacks and his bones are falling apart. I just want to see him have a country, this country, before he dies.”