By ET3 Seth Reed, NMCB 11 Public Affairs
Seabees from NMCBs 5 and 11 volunteered to assist the National Park Service in preparing a Memorial Day display of 3,055 flags on Asan Beach, Guam, May 21. Each flag represented a U.S. military member or Guam civilian killed during the World War II Japanese occupation of Guam or the battle to liberate the island in 1944. (Photo by ET3 Seth Reed/150521-N-DV934-003)
Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCBs) 11 and 5 teamed up to assist the National Park Service in placing 3,055 flags on Asan Beach, Guam, for the annual Memorial Day display. Each flag represented a Guamanian civilian or U.S. military member who died during the World War II Japanese occupation of Guam and the battle to liberate the island in 1944.
Engineering Aide 1st Class William Atwater led groups of Seabee volunteers through the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, positioning stakes in a grid pattern to position the flags. As an engineering aide trained in construction surveying, he was uniquely suited for the job. Military and civilian volunteers then spent a day placing more than 3,000 U.S. and Guam flags which covered Asan Beach.
CM1 Scott Lewis and GM2 Omar Renfro place stakes to mark flag positions while EA1 William Atwater uses an Auto Level to ensure the lines are straight, Asan Beach, Guam, May 21. (Photo by ET3 Seth Reed/150521-N-DV934-001)
For Atwater, it was an honor to contribute to the Memorial Day display. “This is a day set aside for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” said Atwater. “If laying out spots for it this week is what I can do to help remember those who fell, that’s small potatoes compared to what others have given.”
Atwater enlisted in the Navy when he was just 18, a choice he has never regretted. His father also served in the military, retiring as a staff sergeant after 20 years.
“I loved seeing how all the hard work came together at the end to commemorate the bravery and sacrifices for everyone who took part in the Pacific theater,” said Dan Brown, the park’s lead ranger. “Seeing the military and civilians rallying together to put on this ceremony epitomizes what the park is all about.”
Brown was impressed with the Seabees’ attention to detail in laying out the stakes, as well as the “Can Do” attitude they displayed by continuing work in the pouring rain.
“It was no surprise seeing [the Seabees] pay tribute to those who served before them,” he commented.
ET3 Deanna Valentine prepares ribbons and stakes to mark flag placement locations, Asan Beach, Guam, May 21. Seabees NMCBs 5 and 11 assisted the National Park Service in preparing a Memorial Day display of 3,055 flags on the beach. (Photo by ET3 Seth Reed/150521-N-DV934-002)