Rear Adm. John Menoni assumed command of Joint Region Marianas from Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield during a change of command ceremony at the Guam High School gymnasium on July 23.
Menoni also assumed the roles as Senior Military Official for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau; commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; and commander, Task Force West. Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command, was the keynote speaker and praised Chatfield for her accomplishments.
After serving two years as JRM commander Chatfield will be starting a new chapter as the first female president of U.S. Naval War College. “I was and am continually moved by the sincerity and genuine emotion of the Chamoru and Guamanian people, because it reminds me—reminds us—of the military’s purpose and our resolve to defend our fellow American’s freedoms and way of life,” Chatfield said.
Rear Adm. John Menoni assumed command of Joint Region Marianas from Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield during a change of command ceremony at the Guam High School gymnasium on July 23. Photo by Johanna Salinas
While the Marianas may not have the same liberties as the mainland, Chatfield asserted that Guam and CNMI are still a part of her America. “In spite of hundreds of years of impacts presented by different colonial powers, the Chamorus of the CNMI and Guam have a rich and dynamic shared culture, language and value system that continued to tie them together throughout centuries and generations. Your diverse island populations enrich our American family and I’m so proud to have lived in this American neighborhood,” she said.
Chatfield also acknowledged Guam and CNMI for helping U.S. be a strong force.
"We have the most advanced fighting force in the world," Chatfield said. "But even the most advanced weapons and equipment are useless without highly trained men and women to operate them. Today, our nation's fighting force is stronger and our national defense more complete because of patriotism and high enlistment rates from our fellow Americans from Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."
Chatfield thanked from the governments of Guam, CNMI, FSM and Palau, and the local communities for their support during her tour. "The partnership that the communities of Guam and the CNMI share with DoD, and the political relationship that FSM, RMI, and Palau have with the U.S. is powerful because it comes with security guarantees," she said.
Rear Adm. John Menoni is piped aboard during a change of command ceremony at the Guam High School gymnasium in Agana Heights July 23. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman
"Those guarantees are a free and open Indo-Pacific, regional stability and a commitment to open and transparent dialogue. The spirit of Micronesia is beautiful, and I am humbled to have been a part of it."
Jackson presented Chatfield with the Defense Superior Service Medal for her services in Micronesia from January 2017 to July 2019. "I am unequivocally confident that the Joint Region has been and continues to be in good hands," Jackson said.
"As I look back at Sho's tenure as commander, I can say with confidence that Sho has successfully surpassed the requirements of her many demanding duties while embracing all that make Guam and the Marianas unique and special."
Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield is piped ashore during a change of command ceremony at the Guam High School gymnasium aboard U.S. Naval Hospital Guam in Agana Heights July 23. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman
Chatfield will be deeply missed by her team and also by the community she bonded with. War Survivor, Balbina Terlaje, was proud that Chatfield was always kind and respectful toward her. “She always greeted me during the memorial ceremonies,” Terlaje said. “I’m going to miss her.”
Menoni has just finished serving as executive assistant for the director of integration of capabilities and resources (OPNAV N8). He attended the 75th Guam Liberation Day parade and reflected on the sacrifices made decades ago. "In 1944, thousands of service members fought and died for this island, for this region," he said. "You have my commitment that today we remain prepared to maintain regional security and stability, and provide the world's strongest defense against any adversaries who wish to do harm to these islands and our nation."
This appointment is not Menoni’s first time on Guam. He arrived in 1991 as part of Operation Fiery Vigil following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. From 1995-1998, he was part of the now disestablished Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 5; and from 2006-2008, he was the commanding officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25.
"To all the shipmates, and I include our Marines, soldiers, airmen and civilians as shipmates, who work tirelessly towards mission success, I look forward to working with you, listening and learning from you," he said. "To our allies and partners, I look forward to our continued friendship and collaboration that will benefit all our nations from here and for generations to come."
(Updated July 25, 2019, 11:30 a.m.)