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Gold Star Families-Matson wreaths across the Islands event honors the fallen of Micronesia

Dec 19 2021
Guam Stripes

HAGÅTÑA, GUAM (December 20, 2021) – Guam participated for the first time in the National Wreaths Across America Day on Dec. 18 that placed wreaths at more than 3,100 participating locations across the United States to honor the fallen from the U.S. Armed Forces whose lives were lost during wartime. The annual event also remembers the ultimate sacrifices of their families. The Guam Veterans Affairs Office held a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Veterans Cemetery in Piti to lay wreaths for more than 3,000 veterans.

Later that afternoon, Gold Star Families and Matson hosted a ceremony at the future site of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Skinner Plaza in Hagåtña. The Gold Star Families - Matson Wreaths Across the Islands event honored veterans from across Micronesia – Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia – who perished during World War II through Operation Iraqi Freedom.

During the Wreaths Across the Islands event, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and volunteer veterans called out the names of the fallen while wreaths were presented to their families. Special wreaths were placed to honor veterans from each of the past wars.

Retired Army Maj. Tim Ohno, Honorary Board Member for the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument, Woody Williams Foundation, and project coordinator for the project said, “It has been an uplifting week for the Gold Star Families. This is the first time their loved ones will be recognized as part of the Wreaths Across America nationwide event, ensuring that their loved ones’ sacrifices are not forgotten.”

Ohno added, “We are thankful to Matson for their valuable partnership. They helped to make this possible for Guam, and they have supported our efforts to make the Guam Gold Star Families Memorial Monument a reality for the region. On another positive note, we recently received approval from the Guam Legislature to proceed with building the monument here in the heart of Hagåtña. We are another step closer to having a place where Gold Star Families from our region can feel closer to their loved ones.”

The Gold Star Families recently received Legislative approval to build the Guam Gold Star Families Memorial Monument near the Purple Heart Memorial at Skinner Plaza. Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody" Williams created The Gold Star Family Memorial to remember families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Bernie Valencia, Matson vice president and general manager for Guam and Micronesia, said, “Matson is proud to be the partner of the first Wreaths Across the Islands and Wreaths Across America events in Guam. Matson has supported the National Wreaths Across the America efforts in Hawaii and Alaska in previous years, and we saw the opportunity to help bring it to Guam to honor service members from our region. It was a proud moment for the Gold Star Families, and we are honored to have partnered with them, Guam Veterans Affairs, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and volunteer veterans in these events.”

Matson provided the shipping for the more than 3,000 wreaths placed at the Veterans Cemetery and the 130 wreaths laid at Skinner Plaza. The wreaths are on display at both locations, and the community is invited to visit the sites to pay tribute to the fallen and their families. The Gold Star Families and Matson wish all veterans and their families throughout Micronesia a Happy Holidays and thank them for their selfless service.