Sixty-five year old Mario Maquilon said he moved to the United States in 1975 from Peru and wanted to become legal ever since then.
FORT WALTON BEACH —Despite being sick, Mario Maquilon planned to leave Fort Walton Beach Medical Center to receive his American citizenship that he had waiting for for nearly 45 years.
However, nurses and doctors called U,S. District Court Chief Judge Lacey Collier to see if he would travel from Pensacola to swear in Maquilon as a U.S. citizen.
Collier agreed to come to the hospital for the ceremony Friday.
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The 65-year-old Maquilon said he moved to the United States in 1975 from Peru and wanted to become legal ever since then.
"This is the greatest thing ever," Maquilon said. "I’ve been waiting for this all my life."
Collier said it was the first time he granted citizenship in a hospital. The Pensacola federal court had 199 Americans sworn in Friday.
"He was scheduled today and raised hell he was going to walk out" of the hospital, Collier said. "It needed to be done."
Doctors had kept Maquilon in the hospital since he checked in Friday.
The Navarre resident is a former bridge painter and also served in the Marines from 1980 to 1988.
Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Maquilon said he celebrated his father’s citizenship because he no longer has to renew his green card and permit. Father and son held hands during the playing of "America the Beautiful" on a laptop computer on the hospital bed.
"I love it," Christopher said. "This is an amazing opportunity for him."
Mario Maquilon has three children who all served in the military, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Maquilon said he is grateful for the American way of life, the freedom and the Second Amendment.
"I’m proud to be an American now," Maquilon told Collier and the hospital staff. "If it wasn’t for you guys, I would be crying right now."