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Annapolis Group DAY 6-Fabian’s Battle of Saipan Museum & Community Thanks!

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

 

Mission accomplished!

Thank you!

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).

Thank you!!

Walt F.J. Goodridge

 

More? Check out the DiscoverSaipan Youtube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/discoversaipan

 

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Annapolis Group DAYS 4 & 5-Scuba Diving!

“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!

“Thanks, JM!”

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

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Tours

Annapolis Group DAY 3-“Forbidden Island, Canoes & Cuisine!”

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)

Stunning beauty

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…

Having fun!

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

 

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Annapolis Group DAY 2-“Tinian to Hiroshima”

“On Monday, August 1st, Mayor Edwin P. Aldan met with Mr. Walt F.J. Goodridge and U.S. Military personnel from Annapolis Naval Academy. The meet and greet focused on discussions sharing the history of our islands during World War II, the military’s role during the war, the Chamorro Culture, and the famous sites around our island. Mr. Walt F.J. Goodridge is a Jamaican author on the island of Saipan, famous for his many published books, websites, and documentaries, including his tour business…
We thank Mr. Goodridge and all the U.S. Military personnel for taking the time to visit Tinian. Thank you and si yu’us ma’ase.”–From the Mayor of Tinian’s Facebook page
It started with an early morning pickup and a drive to the Francisco Ada International Airport. On the way, Willy suggested a breakfast run at the world-famous Herman’s Modern Bakery, the first post-war business on Saipan and in Micronesia!

“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

Ava

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!

Zoom!

I stressed to the group that despite how critical Tinian is in the telling of world history and the telling of the story of mankind’s impact on civilization (splitting the atom, atomic bombs, etc.) very few people will ever make this journey.
Very few will have these memories and photos to share. So, I encouraged them to appreciate the gravity of where they stood, and to take full advantage of the opportunity.

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

The next most significant sites on the tour are the bomb pits, from where “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” (uranium and plutonium bombs, respectively) were winched into the bellies of the Enola Gay and Bock’s Car B-29s (respectively) prior to their missions to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki (respectively).

At Bomb Pit #1

Carson shares his knowledge of the fission vs fusion processes

Aidan adds to the discussion

Next, we quickly head south for a scheduled meeting with the Mayor of Tinian, Hon. Edwin P. Aldan.

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!

There’s still much more to see after bidding farewell to the Mayor’s office!

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

See for yourself if the replicas are actual sized.
For the group’s battlefield study, a stop at White Beach (Chulu Beach) was on the bucket list, so we squeezed that–and few other sites–into our remaining time on the island before heading to the airport! We still had an important appointment back on Saipan!
Back on Saipan, we headed to American Memorial Park (AMP). Since COVID, the Visitor Center has seen a reduction of tourists, and thus a reduction in its days and hours open to the public, and as it happens, Monday is one of those days closed.
However, Lead Ranger Brooke Nevitt was gracious enough to extend us “by appointment” access, and Ranger Nataline Kaneshi came back in to work on her day off to welcome and host the group!

Ranger Nataline Kaneshi welcomes the group

Thus, we were able to wrap up this critical battlefield study portion of their objective with the Island Called Saipan documentary and a walk through the fascinating and informative display.
After such a jam packed day, we wrapped up just a bit earlier to give the troops some time to unwind. Up next: DAY 3!
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A Special Group from Annapolis, MD Experiences Saipan- DAY 1 “WWII Pilgrimage/In Search of Amelia Earhart”

“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!

 Read online

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)

 

The team

 

Follow me!

 

 

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

 

Mount Tapochau

 

Lunch break

 

Tragedy and beauty at Banzai Cliff

 

Bird Island

The Last Command Post

In search of Amelia Earhart at Garapan Prison (The Old Japanese Jail)

Molly

The team at the Old Japanese Jail

“Golden Hour” Photo by Sunset on Saipan

 

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I have some of the most interesting tour clients! I’ve launched this blog to share their stories–starting with a special group from Annapolis, MD. (You can meet others on the testimonials page and on my Youtube channel) Videos of their adventure are coming soon!
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About Walt

“Once upon a time, there was a Jamaican civil engineer living in New York City who hated his job. He followed his passion, started a sideline business publishing his own books, quit his job, escaped the rat race, ran off to a tropical island in the Pacific, and started a tourism business so he could give tours of the island to pretty girls every day! He now lives a nomadpreneur’s dream life, while helping others do the same!”

Read more at : https://www.jamaicanonsaipan.com/walt/

My name is Walt F.J. Goodridge, a Jamaican living on Saipan! Want to know what that’s like and how I ended up 8,706 miles away in the middle of the Pacific? Here’s a recent interview conducted by Jamaicans.com founder, Xavier Murphy, in which I answer that very question!

What’s It Like Being a Jamaican Living in Saipan???

 

My resumé: Click here

My Saipan Video Resumé:

 

Receiving the Governor’s Humanities Award:

 

America’s Forgotten Colonies  (feat. a certain Jamaican tour guide)