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Oliver and Julia O'Mahoney



Oliver O'Mahoney, an immigrant from Ireland, met his wife, Julia, while stationed in the Philippines during his time in the US military. He was then stationed in Newark, which is where Julia moved to to study nursing. They got married, became citizens, and raised a family together.







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Both my grandmother and grandfather immigrated to America in the early 1960’s. My Grandfather, Oliver O’Mahoney was born in Ireland on July 3rd, 1938 to the chief of police in Dundalk, Ireland. My grandmother, Julia O’Mahoney, was born in 1939 in Manila, Philippines. Following the death of my grandfather’s father, my grandpa enlisted in the US Army and was sent to the Philippines to help prepare for the Vietnam war. This is where my grandparents met and after a few dates, my grandpa found out he would be sent back to America and told my grandma to move to California (as this is where he thought he would be transferred). After a month at sea, my grandfather realizes he would be stationed in Hawaii, not California, and for the next few months he put in requests each week to be transferred to California.

My grandma, who is still in the Philippines at this point, begins expressing interest in joining a student nurse exchange program. Her father however was very sick, which delayed this process as her mother wanted her to stay home and be with family. Following the death of grandma’s father, she decided to move to the US for a 2 year exchange program. She moved to Chicago with her eldest sister before she is placed to work in a hospital in Newark, New Jersey. Grandpa Ollie, still living in Hawaii, is finally granted his transfer request. The Army requires that he provides a reasoning as to why he is requesting to be transferred to California specifically, and he explains that he has an Uncle living and working there. The next week, my grandpa hops on a plane only to find out he is being placed in New Jersey. Grandpa is upset because he has been telling my grandma, Juju to move to California and he will be on the total opposite end of the country. Ironically, my grandma is already living and working in New Jersey. As soon grandpa Ollie lands, he writes my grandma a letter explaining the situation and where he is located. Soon after, he receives a letter back from my grandma, saying she is living about 30 minutes away from where he is stationed.

Of all the places to move or be located, they are now living 30 minutes from each other and can pick up right where they left off. Both my grandparents express the importance of gaining citizenship and their reasons for that.

[Grandpa Voice Over]
“We had a problem with (unintelligible). He didn’t get into the military, he didn’t care one way or another. But I wanted to go into the army, I wanted to - I didn’t want to be drafted because I felt I am coming in this country, the least I can do is volunteer for the military. The military of the United States, for me it’s more of a privilege than a penalty, so I wanted to join. I got my citizenship very early, because of the army, because I had some letters of recommendation so, (unintelligible), ‘we can get you citizenship.’ And I’d rather wait like an (unintelligible) because I didn’t want to use the army in getting my citizenship, I wanted to get it, you know…”

“We were married already when you became a citizen.”

“So when I got out, I got my citizenship in three years, which is very good. Normally it takes five years. And so I applied for my citizenship after I got out; the people in the army were telling me to apply right away, cause you would get it right away, you wouldn’t have to wait, and I did that for three years. But the army was a great experience for me.”

After finishing her 2 year program, my grandma wanted to stay and continue working in the US. She gained citizenship through naturalization after marrying my grandfather and gained it rather easily as they were able to prove their relationship was not solely based on establishing citizenship. After the military, Grandpa Ollie worked for The Campbell’s Soup Company while studying to earn his pilot’s license. After 4 years he left Campbell and secured a job selling airplanes domestically and internationally. My grandparents moved to America with minimal ties, and after 50 years, built a family and created a life together. They both very proud of their previous countries of origin, however they express their appreciation towards America and the opportunities provided.