South Pacific Memorial Park in Yigo, Guam, Sept. 23 --
YIGO, Guam - U.S. and Japanese general officers paid respects Sept. 23 to both nations’ service members and local civilians killed during World War II on Guam more than 60 years ago.
Gen. Eiji Kimizuka, chief of staff of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, laid floral wreaths at the South Pacific Memorial Park in Yigo, Guam, in memory of the loss of over 20,000 lives in the Guam campaigns.
“It is a great honor to be here with General Kimizuka to take part in this ceremony honoring the dead: the Japanese soldiers, the U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen, and the Guamanians,” said Glueck.
The Yigo monument marks the location of a World War II Japanese military command post. Portions of the headquarters cave complex are still intact, serving as a reminder of how the long-ago enemies are now committed to a strong alliance.
The wreath-laying took place in conjunction with the generals inspecting their troops during the 31st MEU’s certification exercise. For the first time, a platoon of JGSDF members participated with U.S. Marines, training side by side as they conducted amphibious helicopter and boat drills in and around Guam.
“To participate in this CERTEX is very important for our Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and we are pleased to be able to participate,” said Kimizuka. “We look forward to doing this more with III MEF and contributing to the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.”
“We are committed to deepening our exchange of ideas and integrating our training as much as possible,” said Glueck. “This CERTEX serves to enhance both our capabilities and also to increase our interoperability as alliance members.”
The governor of Guam, Eddie Calvo, was also on hand to view the ceremony.
“Guam looks forward to hosting continued training with both U.S. and Japanese forces,” said Calvo.
The MEU and JGSDF’s bilateral training comes at a time when the eyes of the world are on the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. recently announced a renewed focus on the region, and the Marine Corps has plans to realign forces to locations such as Australia and Guam as focus shifts away from the long war in Afghanistan.
“This training is really an opportunity to deepen our relationship and continue to work together as alliance members,” said Glueck.
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