MANGILAO, Guam, July 27, 2010 — The people of Guam are making an “incredible contribution” to the U.S. military, the deputy defense secretary said here today.
“Your sons and daughters wear the uniform of the United States at a higher per capita rate than nearly anywhere else,” William J. Lynn III said in a speech at the University of Guam. “We are grateful for their service.”
While Lynn’s speech mostly centered on the realignment of about 8,500 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, he also took time to acknowledge the importance of the island’s military contributions. Many Chamorros have given their lives in service to their nation, he said, referring to Guam’s indigenous people.
“Today I honor all the sons and daughters of Guam who have fallen, particularly those in Iraq and Afghanistan, [and] the one on his way home today,” he said.
Lynn also thanked members of the Gold Star Families of Guam, an organization of families with fallen military loved ones, for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of their nation’s security.
“These families, like those who came before them in years past, are enduring so much to help preserve our freedom,” he said.
The U.S. military and the people of Guam share a long history that dates back for more than a century, Lynn noted. Guam just celebrated its Liberation Day on July 21, marking the day in 1944 when Marines and Chamorros stormed the beaches together to liberate the island from Japanese occupation during World War II.
The anniversary is a time “to remember Guam’s families who suffered and endured the hardships of that war,” Lynn said. Also, “It’s hard when traveling in this part of the world not to reflect on the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who fought so valiantly in this region, and especially on this island, more than a half-century ago,” he said.
Marines once again will return to Guam, but in a different role, Lynn noted. Members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force soon will make their home on Guam, continuing their legacy there. About 8,500 Marines and some 9,000 family members will move from Okinawa to Guam in accordance with an agreement between the United States and Japan.
U.S. officials are working to ensure the move is a smooth one, both for the military and the people of Guam.
“Guam may be far from Washington, but within the Department of Defense, the people of Guam are always close at hand,” Lynn said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)