Story by MC3 Lucas Hans, Commander, Task Force 75
ASAN BEACH, Guam— When you think of Memorial Day, what do you think? For Americans, Memorial days is a day to remember the fallen service members who sacrificed their lives in the fight for our country. Military members and local residents of Guam feel a particularly high level of patriotism on this day.
On May 26, 2018, service members and the residents of Guam joined forces with the National Park Service to commemorate Memorial Day by honoring service members and civilians who died in the Japanese invasion, occupation and United States liberation of Guam during World War II.
“This event is very close to the heart to the people of Guam,” said Park Ranger Rufus Haspalur. “Having this many people show up for this is just incredible.”
The groups worked in conjunction to place 3,055 American and Guam flags on Asan Beach, one of the beaches where U.S. forces landed in 1944 to liberate the island.
“There are 1,885 American flags that represent a service member who died during the invasion and 1,170 Guam flags that each represent a local resident that died,” said Haspalur.
Seabees assigned to Naval Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 devoted over 50 hours during the week prior to the event to plot the points on which all of the flags would be placed.
“Preparation was long but worth it,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Shaiyla Gude, from Memphis, Tenn. “It’s a nice feeling knowing that we are able to carry on the legacy of the what the original group of Seabees created for Guam.”
The Seabees have a long history with Guam. Following the liberation, Seabees set the foundation for Guam’s future by assisting a war-stricken island and creating infrastructure that is still in use today.
Hundreds of volunteers showed up at the park eager to help get the flags placed. Some assembled lights to the flags while others placed small holes in the ground to hold the flags in place. Almost everyone put a flag in the ground to honor a fallen person.
“I have been in charge of this event for the last three years, and this is the largest turnout we have ever had,” said Haspalur.
At dusk, a ceremony was held at the park. Colors were rendered and the national anthem was played. Those in attendance were then asked to help light the flags in the park. The lights will shine in honor of those who lost their lives all through this Memorial Day weekend.
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.