Guard members deployed to provide THAAD site security
By Frank Whitman
The Guam National Guard held a sending-off ceremony at the National Guard Readiness Center in Barrigada on Thursday for 85 Guard members who are taking part in a one-year deployment to provide security for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.
It is the sixth time Guam Guard members have been deployed to provide site security at the THAAD site in northern Guam.
While such ceremonies are most often held for soldiers deploying off-island, Thursday’s ceremony for Task Force Sindålu was indicative of the heightened importance of the THAAD system and its security in light of regional security tensions.
“These soldiers are going into harm’s way with live rounds and orders to use lethal force if necessary,” said Mark Scott, Guam National Guard public affairs officer. “With the THAAD being the first line of defense for the nation, their job assumes some risk, and our ceremony thanks them for accepting this risk.”
Scott said the unit operates around the clock seven days a week. He noted the demands placed on the deployed soldiers’ families as the Guard members are not able to spend holidays, birthdays and other family events with their loved ones. “The ceremony gives the command an opportunity to thank the families for their sacrifices,” Scott said.
Gov. Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio, and Maj. Gen. Esther Aguigui, the adjutant general of the Guam Guard attended the ceremony and spoke as part of the ceremony. Del. James Moylan also attended.
Aguigui said the unit had a high percentage of female troops, including its commander, Capt. Denise Chargualaf. They got where they are, she said, not because they are women, but because they “are darn good” at what they do. She told the troops they have her trust and confidence.
In addition to thanking the soldiers and their families, Tenorio took the opportunity to note the significance of having the Guam delegate to Congress on the House Armed Services Committee. Membership on the committee is considered by many to be important for Guam.
Moylan, who recently took office, was appointed to the committee last week; his predecessor was not on it.
Leon Guerrero recounted the Guard’s tradition of service to the community, most recently their operation of the Covid-19 vaccine program at the University of Guam Calvo Field House and other sites.
The program had been highly inefficient until the Guard was tasked with administering it. Leon Guerrero credited the Guard’s involvement with the high percentage of Guam residents who were eventually vaccinated. She noted that it was Chargualaf, a medical officer, who ran the program.
“They’re great soldiers,” Chargualaf said. “They’re a real mix of (occupational specialties). I’m looking forward to bringing them together and working with them.”