Guam Bases Continue Clean Up as Military Moves to Island Postponed

June 12, 2023 6:42 PM
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jacob Park, an aircraft mechanic assigned to the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron – Forward, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., cleans up debris after Typhoon Mawar at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, June 2, 2023. US Air Force Photo

Despite ongoing cleanup efforts on Guam after a typhoon slammed into the U.S. territory last month parts of the island are starting to take on some business as usual.

Sailors at Naval Base Guam were frocked to their next paygrade. U.S. Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station held a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz., and other services have begun to come online.

Naval Base Guam is starting to reopen services, such as its visitor control center and childcare facilities, although with limitations, according to Facebook posts from the base. The Navy Exchange Store has lifted its limits on fuel purchases, although pay at the pump remains suspended.

Typhoon Mawar was the strongest storm to hit the 150,000 population island in two decades, according to the National Weather Service. Its strong winds left thousands of residents without access to water or electricity two weeks after the storm. The Navy and Air Force suspended permanent changes of the station to their bases on the island in light of the damage. The Navy’s suspension will lift on June 30, reported.

Recovery and restoration are underway at all military bases on Guam, Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Koenig, spokesperson for Joint Region Marianas, told USNI News in an email. Bases are open for normal activities, as of June 9.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is assisting with disaster relief efforts with a combined joint task force led by U.S. Army Pacific and Task Force West assisting, Koenig said.

Military readiness has not been affected by the typhoon, Koenig said in the email. Summer exercises will continue, although some have been scaled down or relocated. Continuing exercises will happen at Marianas Island Range Complex.

“Our military forces here in Guam are some of the most resilient people in the world,” Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, the Indo-Pacom representative to Guam said in a statement. We may be recovering but we are strong and we are back on our feet and ready to fight.”

DOD members have helped with FEMA-led recovery efforts, including water and food delivery to the 19 mayors’ offices, hauling generators to worksites, clearing debris and helping to install temporary roofs on houses, Koenig said.

Marines and sailors aboard SS Curtiss (T-AVB-4) also helped assist in recovery efforts. The ship was on its way back to Miramar, Calif., but stopped in Guam to drop off equipment ahead of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing summer exercise series, according to a Air Force release.

The service members helped clear debris from the DoD facilities on Guam, as well as support other DoD efforts.

“Looking at the devastation across the island, we couldn’t help but assist in restoration efforts,” said Maj. William Dunst, commander of troops assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16. “My team has been putting in hard work and will continue to put in hard work until it’s time for us to leave. Marines don’t sit idly, we seize the initiative to respond to crisis in any [climate] and place.”

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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