An elderly man who served in the U.S. Navy is having trouble obtaining a passport because he can't prove he is an American citizen, despite his military service.
Ray Morgan of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, who will be 90 years old this year, said that he and his wife, Sandy, had planned one last vacation together to celebrate this milestone birthday, KARE 11 reported on Feb. 16.
The two planned to travel to the Canadian Rockies, which they last visited in 1982. However, there was one large obstacle standing in their way.
When Ray applied for a U.S. passport to travel out of the country, he realized he could not supply proof that he was a citizen.
The man was born at his family's home in Iowa and has no official birth certificate.
"I never needed a birth certificate," Ray, who left the Navy in January 1945, told KARE 11.
When asked who signed his paychecks during his 30-year career as a market reporter with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ray responded that it was the "federal government."
"It's so comical," he said. "When we tell anyone about it, they laugh. It's funny to them, too."
In cases like Ray's, passport officials often use a "preponderance of evidence" to determine whether an applicant is a U.S. citizen.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs told the man that he could either have someone who witnessed his birth 90 years ago write a letter on his behalf, or gather "early public records" and other evidence that he is a citizen.
The Morgans eventually tracked down Ray's baptismal certificate at a church in Sioux City, Iowa. The document is dated 1926, the year the man was born.
They hope that the passport office will consider this document sufficient proof of Ray's citizenship status so that their dream vacation can still be realized.
"It'd just be a trip we'll always remember," Sandy told KARE 11.
More than 15 million U.S. passports were issued in the fiscal year 2015, according to data published by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.