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Military and Guam residents celebrate Veterans Day

  • Published
  • By Jesse Leon Guerrero
  • Joint Region Edge
More than 300 military members, veterans and their family and friends attended Guam's official Veterans Day ceremony at the Ricardo J. Bordallo Complex at Adelup field Nov. 11.

The ceremony featured remarks from guest speaker, Brig. Gen. Phil Ruhlman, commander of the 36th Wing, the presentation and retirement of colors by the Joint Service Color Guard, recognition of "Veterans of the Year," a wreath-laying, a 21-gun salute and taps by members of Andersen Air Force Base, and the releasing of freedom birds.

During his remarks, Ruhlman spoke about the burden of waging war to ensure peace. Ruhlman thanked veterans everywhere for taking the oath to protect the nation and inspiring others to do the same.

"Today, for many veterans, service has meant multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, going once, going back again, a third and a fourth and a fifth time," Ruhlman said. "Here, we owe great debt not just to our active duty members, but to our reservists and our guardsman, who balance military commitments with [their] civilian lives."

As a highlight of the ceremony, Ruhlman, Rear Adm. Douglass Biesel, commander of Joint Region Marianas, Governor of Guam Felix Camacho and other dignitaries presented Veteran of the Year medals to representatives from the U.S. Navy Fleet Reserve Association, U.S. Air Force Veterans of Foreign Wars, U.S. Army Retirees Association, Ladies Auxiliary groups and many other veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the current War on Terror.

After receiving his own medal as the Navy's Veteran of the Year, Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Orlando McCleod, of U.S. Naval Base Guam Security Dept., said it was an honor to stand with the other veterans that morning.

"I take great, great pride in wearing this uniform, not just for the Navy but for all Armed Forces," McCleod said.

After representing the Air Force as its Veteran of the Year, Staff Sgt. Caleb Walker, of the 36th Wing, said he hopes the younger generation can look to veterans as role models.

"It's always good to honor our fallen comrades and look up to the people before us," Walker said.

Tom Devlin, who served served with the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Div. in Vietnam from 1968-1969, said he still remembers those friends that were wounded or killed before returning home. He said that the sacrifices of veterans affect all people and he hopes they will continue to celebrate and honor them.

"Remember all the families of those that served, and also remember those families of those that serve today -- their sons and daughters in Iraq and Afghanistan," Devlin said. "We have to remember because, sometimes if you remember, maybe we won't make the same mistakes that we made in the past again."

Other veterans recalled their time in service and the lessons they learned. Julia Camacho, who was Guam's first woman airborne trooper, said she appreciated all of her military experiences, which began with the 5th Special Forces from 1981-1984, the 82nd Airborne Div. from 1984-1985 and then with the Guam National Guard from 1985-1995.

"With the veterans, we're very lucky to have them," Camacho said. "I'm proud to be one of them, and that's why we have our freedom."

Veterans Day was first recognized as Armistice Day in the United States in 1919 as a day to remember those who fought in World War I, which had just ended the year prior. The name changed in 1954 to recognize veterans of all wars and is traditionally held on the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.

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