On this final day of their itinerary, the team is about to meet Fabian Indalecio, Saipan resident, veteran (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and passionate collector who has a unique collection he agreed to share with our guests!
Our originally-scheduled meetup on Sunday had to be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances. Fabian, however, not one to disappoint interested visitors to these islands, called me up last night, and we made it happen this morning with just a little bit of time before their scheduled departure!
For safety reasons and to avoid crowding, Fabian suggested we split the group in two.
Fabian greets the first group
“Wow! This is crazy…”—overheard upon first entering the museum.
Yes, it can be overwhelming at first sight! Gathered over a period of thirty years, the thousands of items in Fabian’s “Battle of Saipan Museum” include relics of every shape and stripe from pre and post war Saipan and Tinian.
Spotted, unearthed, retrieved and gathered primarily by Fabian himself (with some provided by members of the community), the items come from battle sites, caves, the ocean, backyards, construction sites, recycling stations and the post-war military dump sites.
Many of the items from Tinian were collected by Fabian’s uncle, Franklin Mundo, who is doing great work finding and sharing the remains still being discovered on both islands with organizations in Japan and the US who are still working identifying and repatrating the over 30,000 individuals who have still not yet been found since both battles.
Rare items under glass
..bottles, bombs, books…
An amazing collection
Molly inspects a Japanese helmet featuring the anchor/cherry blossom badge
Fabian welcomes the second group
The engraving reads “Weighted Container for Classified Matter” (see below)
The team! Thanks, Fabian!
The Marianas Variety newspaper hit the stands early in the morning, but neither I nor the group had actually seen it! I grabbed a few copies and shared with some of the team while they had breakfast at Shirley’s in Susupe!
Seeing the Variety spread for the first time! Yep, you’re famous on Saipan, Tinian & Rota!
A few hours later, I met up with the group for their check-in with Star Marianas for the flight back to Guam.
Being cleared for departure by CBP (Customs & Border Protection) officers
Group 1 on the tarmac
Members of group 2 make their to the plane!
And that, my friends, is the short, happy tale of the 9 intrepid visitors from Annapolis, Maryland and the Jamaican on Saipan! They’ll leave with over 500 photos and videos (not including their own) with which to remember this experience, a hands-on appreciation of the life and culture here in the CNMI, a more concrete sense of what the conflict here entailed, and hopefully the names and memories of a few folks they can now call “friend.”
“Walt, thanks again for arranging such a wonderful and memorable trip! Visiting [the private] collection this morning was a perfect cap to the tour. We will look back on it fondly—and we will make sure to sing the praises of you and Saipan to everyone we talk to about it.”-– Bob from Maryland
The Saipan Tribune (Monday, Aug 8, 2022)
Marianas Variety (Monday, Aug 8, 2022)
TEXT from letter: THANKS to the Community
“An Experience Worth Remembering & a Story Worth Telling!”
From July 31 to August 5, a group of visitors from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, got a taste of the history and culture of the CNMI as part of the academy’s Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture Program. It was, for several of these young, future officers, their first time leaving the mainland US. With a tight schedule and many moving parts, it took a team/community/village effort to make this a success. On their behalf, I’d like to extend thanks and appreciation by publicly recognizing the following individuals and organizations here on Saipan as well as on Tinian (as well as Guam & the US mainland) whose participation, generosity and professionalism made this an experience worth remembering and a story worth telling:
• The Naval Academy’s International Program Office (MD), David Anderson of Outdoor Focus, LLC,Las Vegas.
• Beth Demapan, Ray Deleon Guerrero, Jr., Eva Chamorita & Willy Kaitabu.
• Shaun Christian & managers/staff of Star Marianas, Hertz, Maria Aileen Arnold and staff at Islander Car Rental & Century Hotel.
• Tinian Mayor Edwin P. Aldan, Bernadita Palacios, Jose Kiyoshi, Jose Atalig (photographer) & Franklin Mundo.
• National Park Service Lead Ranger Brooke Nevitt & Ranger Nataline Kaneshi (who arranged
to grant us access to the American Memorial Park Visitor Center…on a day normally closed to the public!)
• Yumi “Naka” Brundidge, Sydney Takahashi and crew of FishGuyzScuba, Pat Calvo and staff of Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar.
• Parker Yobei (Executive Director), Tony Piailug (Master Canoe Carver and a Master Navigator), John Castro, Orlando Limes and all the trades helpers of the Seafaring Traditions Program under the Commonwealth Council of Arts and Culture.
• Chen of CK Electronics (across from KFC).
• JM Guerrero, who (w/Pat Calvo assist) gifted each team member a copy of a full-color collector’s item Saipan Pictorial from 1994!
• Fabian Indalecio for graciously sharing his passion and time with us.
• Jayvee Vallejera & Aldwin Batusin (Saipan Tribune) & Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety).
Walt F.J. Goodridge
More? Check out the DiscoverSaipan Youtube Channel
“Fishguyz were SUPERB. Really wonderful. I highly recommend them to other divers – and I am picky!”—M from Maryland
As word spread around the island of the group’s presence, Pat Calvo called to inform me that JM Guerrero, farmer and businessman who was once a Marianas Visitor Authority executive, sent a gift for the team: a full color souvenir book titled A Pictoral View of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands published by J.M. & Associates & Island Business Solutions back in 1994!
Pat delivered the books to me, and I met up with the group this morning to hand them their collector’s item souvenir and to see them off for their scuba diving adventure with FishGuyzScuba!
FishGuyz on the scene!
The following photos were provided by Sydney Takahashi of FishGuyzScuba:
“We loved them. They’re a fun team. They listened and were willing to learn!”—Sydney Takahashi, FishGuyzScuba
Day 3. This time, Molly leads the morning ritual. I meet the group at 9:00am to begin our day of cultural immersion!
Molly leads the ritual.
We pile into the van and head to my favorite spot to introduce guests: Forbidden Island!
At the lookout spot, I share the cultural significance of Forbidden Island (you’ll have to take my tour to hear me explain it!).
A moment of silence to show reverence for the sacred site.
“Over hill, over dale…”
A pause to enjoy the scenery (one of many)
Rappelling is probably second nature for this group
Aidan the Explorer
Molly on the rocks
The Intrepid nine
On our way to the secret cave
Note to self: Perhaps I should learn how to swim…
Back from the secret cave
On the way back up
After a brief stop at Lau Lau Bay Golf Course, we head back to Susupe to meet up with John Castro, Canoe Program Coordinator of the Seafaring Traditions Program under the Commonwealth Council for Arts & Culture.
John S. Castro-Mames welcomes the group
Tony Piailug (Master Canoe Carver and a Master Navigator)
Tony is a recent recipient of the Governor’s Humanities Award for Preservation of Traditional Cultural Practices
John shares the Seafaring Traditions program mission and goals
…and takes tons of questions
…and more questions
Can’t have a cultural experience without food! Pat Calvo, his wife Mel, and staff member Marissa of Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar, share Chamorro cuisine. On the menu: Chicken, yellow rice, taro, fried breadfruit and more!
Catering by Kim’s Food Court & Snack Bar; left side: Marissa, Mel & Pat
Enjoying Chamorro-style cuisine
Aldwin from the Saipan Tribune interviews group member
Aldwin & Me
Pat shares local lore, history and culture with Molly
Aidan receives guidance from Orlando, a trades helper
Sydney gathers info for the next day’s adventure
And that was how Day 3 was spent! Members of the group decided to enjoy Saipan’s beach and calm waters for the rest of the evening!
Micro Beach redux
“Don’t forget the sweet bread!”
MJ takes in the history of the Herman Guerrero family business
We’ve still got a few minutes before check-in and departure…
Becca leads the morning ritual as we await the charter
Weigh-in for proper weight distribution
On the 10min 24sec flight to Tinian; (I predicted 10min 39sec)
The obligatory pose for a once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Exploring the Japanese Radio Communications Building
To the Japanese Defense Caves
The blow hole (Ava got “travel points” for her request; truth is, I would have stopped here anyway!)
A dip at the blow hole! This was a first, but I promised on DAY 1 that I wouldn’t let anyone leave with any regrets, so this one was for Charlie!
Here’s a sign you won’t find many other places on the planet
Setting foot on the runway that changed the course of the war in the Pacific
Runway Able, Tinian
Air Administration Building
Inside the Japanese Power Plant; Column failure from shell pounding from above
Power Plant destruction
At Bomb Pit #1
Carson shares his knowledge of the fission vs fusion processes
Aidan adds to the discussion
Welcomed and greeted by Mayor Aldan
Everyone gets a copy of Don Farrell’s meticulously researched book, Tinian and the Bomb: Project Alberta and Operation Centerboard
We spend the next 25 minutes engaging with the Mayor, asking questions about the island’s relationship with the US and with the military, the geopolitical landscape and even Tinian hot peppers!
Let the questions begin!
…and more questions!
A photo for the scrapbook!
At the House of Taga
Touching ancient civilization
The last stone standing
Replicas of Little Boy & Fat Man. Are they they actual size of the originals? See me measuring them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=be03sFfI-fM
Ranger Nataline Kaneshi welcomes the group
“Thanks so much for going above and beyond my, and I am sure the academy’s expectations in providing a quality tour of Saipan and Tinian. Your attention to detail and ability to remain fluid during the tour was very appreciated. I really enjoyed looking at the images and video clips you captured of the trip, and I look forward to working with you again in the future!” — David Anderson, Outdoor Focus LLC
From July 31 to August 5, 2022, I had the honor and pleasure of hosting a cultural and history tour for a special team from Annapolis, Maryland! Here are some photos and video screen shots from that adventure. We’ll start with some of the local media coverage. (You’ll have to get certain details of the trip as well as the identities of the participants from the local media coverage as I have to be careful about what I reveal in the actual text of my blog.)
Thanks to Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety editor) for his generosity!
The day prior, we appeared on the front and second pages of The Saipan Tribune! Read online
Thanks to Jayvee Vallejera (Saipan Tribune Editor), and Tribune correspondent Aldwin Batusin, as well as Zaldy Dandan (Marianas Variety Editor) for their generosity getting the stories out in time for the team to grab a few copies of the papers while still here on Saipan as souvenirs of their trip!
“It was a great story and well worth the Page 1 and Page 2 placements.”—Jayvee
We also appeared on the Mayor of Tinian’s Facebook page!
View the post here
Thanks to Mayor Edwin Aldan for making time in his schedule, and Berni Palacios for arranging the Meet & Greet! Thanks also to Mr. Jose Kiyoshi for helping us find our way when we showed up! (More on the DAY 2 blog post)
Stay tuned! There’ll be many more people in the community whose participation and support made it a great success!
The group typically starts each day with a quote and discussion for motivation.
The morning ritual in the hotel lobby
We then loaded into a van and started our tour with an orientation at Micro Beach.
Orientation at Micro Beach
Japanese tank atop bunker at Red Beach (Quartermaster Road)
More details about the landing beaches
Willy K., volunteer driver for the day, shares his thoughts as a Fijian on Saipan
Along the pathway on Beach Road
Susupe Park bunker on the beach
We then met up with Eva Chamorita, who agreed to offer some perspective and insight into Chamorro culture. Eva is also a contributor to the recently-published Latte in the Marianas book.
Eva and the team at Ladder Beach
After visiting a few more cultural and historic sites, we made our way to Mount Tapochau.
A view from the top at Mount Tapochau
Tragedy and beauty at Banzai Cliff
The Last Command Post
In search of Amelia Earhart at Garapan Prison (The Old Japanese Jail)
The team at the Old Japanese Jail
“Golden Hour” Photo by Sunset on Saipan