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
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