Marines from the 3rd Marine Division returned to Guam July 21 for the first time since 1944; wielding the nation’s colors as they walk down streets lined with families and friends on the day that marks the island of Guam’s liberation.
When Major Gen. Richard L. Simcock II took command of 3rd Marine Division, he and Sgt. Maj. Vincent Santiago said they recognized that Guam held a prominent part in Marine Corps history as a division and decided to do something special.
“We definitely didn’t want to miss the opportunity to bring our color guard to march in the parade for the liberation of Guam,” said Santiago.
Santiago wanted to bring 3rd Marine Division back to a land where they fought hard in support of Guam.
Local residents waved and cheered as the Marines marched down the one-and-a-half mile course to the end of the parade.
John Ross Cruz, a school aid from Agena Heights, Guam, said this is the first time he’s seen a Marine Color Guard.
“I think it’s an honor and a privilege to get to see them walking down the street in the parade,” said Cruz.
As crowds cheered, the Marines marched on with exemplary discipline. Afterward, they reflected on the unique event they just took part in.
“I want to thank the people of Guam for the opportunity that we have to actually share this moment with them,” said Sgt. Antonio Garay, a field radio operator and color sergeant with 3rd Marine Division. “They are very peaceful, grateful and patriotic individuals. The fact that we could actually come up and get hugs, handshakes and free food after the actual parade is something I will forever cherish.”
The Marines stayed all day, conversing with local residents. This year’s parade would be a day to remember for everybody, said Sgt. Tony Reynoso, Jr., a motor support technician and color sergeant with 3rd Marine Division.
Reynoso, an Oakley, California native, said he looks forward to telling his children about this event.
“I can tell them that I was there when we had the regimental color guard in Guam for the first time since 1944,” said Reynoso.
After 72 years, the memory of 3rd Marine Division’s actions in Guam remains, and the appreciation felt by Guam’s citizens is as strong as it’s ever been, said Cruz.
“The parade brings a reminder of how fortunate we are that we’re here today,” said Cruz. “It’s great to know that we have a military, that our friends and family are here with us, and that we have people that are willing to stand up and defend our freedom.”
Photo by Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Cray