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  • By Bruce Lloyd

New Guam statue honors military service, Vietnam refugees

It was exactly the sort of day that challenges those serving in the U.S. Navy. Gusting rain and high surf crashing over the Ritidian reef. Regardless, those wearing the uniform are obligated to perform their duties.

With his hands shoved in the pockets of his pea jacket for warmth and his sea bag at hand, the seven foot tall Lone Sailor statue was unveiled during a ceremony at the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex at Adelup, Guam Dec. 15.

Photo Joint Region Marianas

"This Lone Sailor will stand the watch at Adelup," said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, Joint Region Marianas. "[It] looks out to that very important point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Philippine Sea, where great battles were generated, and great victories won on behalf of freedom; and the free and open Indo-Pacific that we cherish has its defense here on Guam."

The effort to place a statue on island was an initiative of the Vietnamese-American community in the U.S. mainland and the U.S. Navy Memorial association to demonstrate the special relationship between the Navy, the sea services, Guam and thousands of Vietnamese citizens who found refuge in Guam in the closing days of the Vietnam War during Operation New Life.

"This is where they came through, 111,000 of them," said retired Rear Adm. Frank Thorp, president and CEO of the U.S. Navy Memorial. "The Lone Sailor will stand proudly and will represent for those people every man and woman who has served in the Navy, who serves in the Navy today or who will serve in the future."

At the foot of the statue is graphic version of the Guam official seal.

Guam's Lone Sailor is the western-most in the nation and is the 16th installed by the organization.

As one of many memorials at the governor's complex, the Lone Sailor stands alongside the Guam Seal and is surrounded by 19 benches that represent each village in Guam.

Lt. Governor Ray Tenorio, Photo Bruce Lloyd

In what was likely one of his last official acts in office, Guam Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio expressed his appreciation to the Navy Memorial and the Navy for their partnership with Guam in this effort and touched upon the military's important relationship to the people of Guam.

He also predicted that the statue would draw many visitors on Guam, which has a long tradition of military service and large population of veterans and active duty military members.

"They're going to look at that Lone Sailor and they're going to be proud of what they see here," Tenorio said. "Every person has served in the military one way or another [and] has had the benefit of the United States Navy."

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