Vietnam Vet Gets Retirement Surprise: He's Not a Citizen

San Lorenzo man serves in military, works a lifetime -- "illegally."

It took Lee Smith quite some time to find out that he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

During which time he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and lived and worked in the Bay Area for nearly 44 years.

Smith, 65, a retired sheet metal fabricator, discovered he wasn't a citizen upon turning 65 and trying -- and failing -- to collect his Social Security benefits, according to The Daily Review.

He joined the Army in 1969 and took the oath of citizenship -- a requirement for him to be sent to Vietnam as he requested -- and received a Social Security number.

Somehow, Smith -- who "never tried to vote" -- was never quite made a citizen, despite a listing on his discharge papers clearly listing him as such, the newspaper reported.

The "error" was fixed recently when Smith, who was born in Switzerland but lived in the U.S. since he was 9, took the oath of citizenship at U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell's office, the newspaper reported.

He'll reapply for his benefits after taking the oath for a second time.

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