Gov. Benigno R. Fitial yesterday recognized the first director of Peace Corps Micronesia and the volunteers who have worked throughout the former Trust Territory.
Respected athletics official Kurt Barnes, who came to Saipan as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1966, accepted a plaque on behalf of former Peace Corps director John Pincetich, who will be celebrating his 90th birthday on Sept. 4, 2006.
Other former Peace Corps volunteers—Chuck Jordan, Ann Jordan, Steve Woodruff, and Mike Malone—were present at the plaque presentation.
The governor recalled that Pincetich was appointed to serve as the first director of Peace Corps Micronesia in August 1966 after serving on the Peace Corps staff in Nigeria. Pincetich and his wife Jerry moved to Saipan in the fall of that year and made their home in San Antonio. Within a few months, they welcomed several hundred volunteers to work throughout the Trust Territory.
“Being in the unique position of directing hundreds of outspoken Sixties-era volunteers in a place under the American flag required John to use all his skills of diplomacy. He was a great friend of our people, as well as of the many Peace Corps that he influenced,” Fitial said.
He added, “So today, we honor our volunteers and Mr. Pincetich for their service. We pay homage to all the Peace Corps pioneers who have stayed with us and who continue to contribute in business, education, sports, youth programs, and many other ways. You are an important part of the fabric of our community.”
A physical education specialist, Barnes is well known for his role as the first administrator of public school leagues in both high school and elementary levels. He guided the NMI National Women’s Volleyball team to a gold medal in the 1969 Micronesian Games, and has coached teams to championship crowns in islandwide women’s softball tournaments.