In His Father’s Footsteps

Alan Sonntag’s father participated in the Battle of Saipan. His wife Peggy’s father stormed Utah Beach (Normandy, France) on D-Day. The couple recently visited Saipan on a pilgrimage to have a virtual “Then & Now Father & Child Reunion” with Alan’s father. I had the honor and pleasure of making that wish come true. Read the interview here:

(14 photos are in the slide; click the arrows to view)

Watch it here:



As promised in the video, here are the photos Alan Sonntag brought with him to Saipan (Leave a comment telling Alan where a given photograph was taken):

1 below(this looks to be the Grotto) 2 below 3 below 4 below 5 below 6 below 7 below 8 below 9 below 10 below 11 below 12 below 13 below 14 below 15 below 16 below 17 below 18 below 19 below 20 below 21 below 22 below 23 below 24 below 25 below 26 below 27 below 28 below 29 below 30 below 31 below 32 below 33 below 34 below 35 below 36 below 37 below 38 below 39 below 40 below 41 below 42 below 43 below


Wunderschön! Germany Discovers Saipan…Again!

In case you didn’t know, the empire of Germany actually had possession of these islands for 15 years from 1899 to 1914, and there is still some of that influence (names, language, etc.) within the local community. Well, “the Germans” have returned! A fun-loving, cool group of folks visiting on the cruise ship MS Artania from out of Hamburg! Join me on a wunderschön (beautiful) day on Saipan:

And, they made it into one of the local papers the next day!

Check out the color photos on the Marianas Variety website!



Tour Plans Gone Wrong…When Zuiderdam Came to Town

At 7:30am on Mon, Feb 19, as the MS Zuiderdam was docking at the port of Saipan, I arrived at the car rental company and was told that the TWO 15-passenger vans I had reserved over a year ago (and confirmed and re-confirmed every month in between) were now unavailable for me to conduct my “Saipan in a Day” tour for the 20-30 folks who’d been anticipating it for months and who would be disembarking in less than a half hour! Here’s what I did:



Kuwaiti Tourists Discover Saipan!

I had the unique opportunity to meet, tour and interview with Wesam Behbehani and her sister, Weam, from Kuwait. Wesam, who focuses on off-the-beaten-path destinations, provides vicarious travel enjoyment to her 15,000 mostly Kuwaiti Instagram followers (@rosy_path) who are unable to travel due to prohibitive logistics and/or expense. Here is a short, post-tour interview along with articles/photos in Saipan’s newspapers:





Boots on Saipan: What’s With Those Big Gray Planes at the Airport?

A new series thanks to encouragement from Youtube channel subscriber, Mikell!




Tinian Runway Off Limits Soon?

Links to all the referenced articles are in the description of the video below:


See the latest update here:


CHATGPT Analyzed My Saipan Tour Reviews. Here’s what it found…

I compiled 42 (i.e., ALL) the tour reviews I’ve received on Google, ToursByLocals and TripAdvisor/Viator, and gave CHATGPT the following task prompt:

BACKGROUND: My name is Walt Goodridge. I am a tour guide. I offer personalized, customizable, all-day World War II tours, “Saipan in a Day” tours, and “Tinian to Hiroshima tours” as well as trekking and adventure tours on the islands of Saipan and Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I wish to create a compelling value proposition for advertising and marketing my tours based on what satisfied customers have actually said. Following are all the reviews I’ve received for my personalized, all-day tours of the islands of Saipan and Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands. Each review starts with a “Customer: Name” followed by tour details in some instances, and the actual review (some are multiple paragraphs; each new entry begins with “CUSTOMER.”

TASK: Please analyze the reviews and provide:
(a) 10 descriptive words that appear frequently
(b) 3 to 5 benefits or value that are frequently alluded to or addressed by the customer
(c) 3 to 5 compliments that are given by the customer
(d) Any other benefits and themes that YOU identity that could be used to craft an overview of my tours’ unique selling proposition
(e) an 80-100 word overview of my tours (less than 450 characters)


Based on the reviews, here is an analysis:

(a) 10 Descriptive Words:
1. Knowledgeable
2. Informative
3. Personalized
4. Flexible
5. Enthusiastic
6. Accommodating
7. Engaging
8. Attentive
9. Comprehensive
10. Memorable

(b) Benefits/Values:
1. Personalized Experience: Walt tailors tours to individual interests, ensuring a unique and customized experience.
2. In-depth Knowledge: Walt’s extensive knowledge provides a deeper understanding of Saipan’s history and culture.
3. Flexibility: He is flexible in adjusting the itinerary based on customer preferences and requests.
4. Insider Access: Walt offers access to private collections and arranges special visits, enhancing the tour experience.
5. Comprehensive Experience: Customers cover a wide range of historical and cultural sites, maximizing their time on the islands.

(c) Compliments:
1. Knowledge and Enthusiasm: Customers consistently praise Walt’s depth of knowledge and passion for the subject matter.
2. Flexibility and Accommodation: Walt’s willingness to adapt the tour to customer preferences is highly appreciated.
3. Engaging Conversations: Guests enjoy the meaningful and engaging conversations with Walt, adding a personal touch to the experience.
4. Attention to Detail: Walt’s meticulous planning and attention to detail, including timestamped itineraries and post-tour updates, are valued.

(d) Additional Benefits/Themes:
1. Personal Connection: Walt’s willingness to share personal stories and experiences creates a more intimate and enjoyable tour.
2. Rare Insights: Customers appreciate the opportunity to learn about Saipan’s history from someone who has lived elsewhere and now calls it home.
3. Off-the-Beaten-Path Experiences: Walt takes guests to places that larger tour groups may not have access to, providing a more unique and exclusive experience.

(e) Tour Overview (80-100 words):
Discover Saipan with Walt Goodridge, your knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. Enjoy a fully personalized tour tailored to your interests, whether it’s exploring World War II sites, immersing in nature treks, or delving into Saipan’s rich cultural history. Walt’s flexibility ensures your itinerary reflects your preferences. Gain rare insights from someone who’s embraced Saipan as home after an adventurous journey. With access to private collections and off-the-beaten-path locations, you’ll experience Saipan in a way few can. Engage in meaningful conversations, capture stunning memories, and leave with a comprehensive understanding of this beautiful island.

Excellent! Thanks!

You’re welcome! If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask. Good luck with your tours, Walt!


You can check out the actual reviews below, but if you actually wish to request a tour, contact me directly ( to save on cost:

(a) TripAdvisor:


(c) ToursByLocals:


“I’ve been on many tours…” (I knew this was going to be good, so…)

Kim and her son made a special trip from Massachusetts to Saipan to experience my “WWII Pilgrimage/Search for Amelia” tour and the “Tinian to Hiroshima” tour the next day. Here’s what she said the moment she got in the car for Day 2’s adventure!

A Day in the Life Tours

20,000 Strays on Saipan??? An unplanned interview courtesy of Jim & Barbara!

I recently dropped off a donation to the Saipan Humane Society in the name of Relic Hunter Fabian Indalecio (with special thanks to recent Saipan visitors, Jim & Barbara Foster).

Barbara, Jim & Fabian

While there, my friend, volunteer and animal-lover, Yumiko Naka Brundidge, stepped out of the operating room, saw me and invited me to observe a spaying being performed by Whitney Collins, a visiting, volunteer doctor from Missouri by way of Costa Rica. This impromptu interview gives a little insight into the stray dog/cat situation on Saipan, how you can help if this is something you care about, and how your donations of money and/or gifts to the organization are utilized. (Contact information is in the video description)






Andrew’s Tripadvisor review of the Tinian to Hiroshima tour!

Seattle, Washington resident, Andrew Kennelly, completed his mission of visiting all 50 US states a few years before the pandemic. “What’s next?” he asked himself. “Well, why not visit the US territories and commonwealths?” he answered! And that’s what he did! He used up all his frequent-flier miles to book a trip to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. I entered as a character in Andrew’s story when he decided on the once-in-a-lifetime, requisite tour of Tinian! I’ll let Andrew tell the story as outlined in his review of my tour on the Tripadvisor website:

I am normally an independent traveler who does not feel a need or desire to hire guides. However, I made a rare exception for my day tour of Tinian, hiring Mr. Walt Goodridge to take me around. Five years ago, when I first considered a visit to Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, I had bought Walt’s book, There’s Something about Saipan. I enjoyed the book, and then I noticed Walt was also mentioned extensively in another book I bought, The Not-Quite States of America. So it would seem he is something of a local celebrity and has a fascinating personal story: An Ivy-League educated native of Jamaica who gave up a good engineering career in New York City to relocate to Saipan. And then I happened upon his website and saw that he offered tours. I figured I had to meet this guy and I bet he could give a pretty good tour. I also figured that most likely in my entire life I would spend at most one day on Tinian so I wanted to make sure I got the most out of it, and did not miss anything important.

Anyway, Walt picked me up at my hotel (the Saipan Hyatt) and then we went to the Saipan Airport. The first great part of the daylong adventure to Tinian was simply getting there – a 15-minute flight on a 5-passenger 1974 Piper Cherokee Six with a 300HP Continental TIO540. The views of Tinian from the plane provide a great “preview” of what is to come.

After arriving in Tinian, we jumped into a rental car (Walt arranged it) and we set out on our Tinian tour. The majority of a tour of Tinian will, appropriately, be focused on sites relevant to World War II. There are a number of World War II era buildings, most of them originally Japanese-built and subsequently repurposed by American forces. They are in varying states of decay, but mostly structurally sound so you can walk into and onto them. The fact that they are left to decay naturally, as opposed to being “restored”, is, in my opinion, neat.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip is viewing and driving on the actual runway used by the Enola Gay when it left on its mission to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Two other sites of high significance are the pits used to load the atomic bombs (“Little Boy” and “Fat Man”) onto the Enola Gay and Bockscar respectively.

Other worthy sites around the island include various bomb shelters, Shinto shrines, abandoned artillery and vehicles, Chulu Beach, a currently operational Voice of America transmission facility, life-size replicas of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”, the “House of Taga” (think of it as a tropical Pacific Stonehenge). I also found a drive past the recently-abandoned Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino to be interestingly eerie. A brief drive through San Jose, the one and only village on Tinian, where the vast majority of the island’s population lives, is interesting.

Walt obviously knows his history and is a wealth of information. If he doesn’t know something, he’ll acknowledge as such and make a note to look into it and get back to you. Perhaps more importantly, however, I enjoyed talking to Walt over the course of the day about his own story and about what life is like in Saipan. He’s an “open book”, willing to share much about himself, and there are no “off-limits” questions.

We concluded our tour of Tinian and made the short flight back to Saipan. After returning to Saipan, Walt offered to take me to one or two sites in Saipan to fill up the remainder of the day, but my jet lag was kicking in and I needed some rest so we called it a day. But it is a day I will never soon forget.

I absolutely recommend engaging Walt for a tour of Tinian. Reach out to him directly, though, no need to book through some third-party booking site.

On the 10min:50sec flight to Tinian
The obligatory first photo on Tinian!
Tinian is home to two of the only Shinto temples outside of Japan
The American Memorial with a photo of what it looked like in years past
Air Operations Building (control tower) with a photo of what it looked like in years past; a second level is now no longer!
Inside the Japanese air raid shelter, frogs, lizards and all!
Japanese power plant
Bomb Pit #1: Little Boy
Amphibious landing craft
At the newly-erected statue of King Taga

You can tell by Andrew’s thoroughness, attention to detail, and generosity lavishing what is now my “best review ever”) that he was a fun and interesting client to hang out with! Hope we can hang out again if you’re ever back in this part of the world, Andrew!