Three groups of World War II veterans are visiting the Northern Marianas this month, returning to battle sites for the first time decades after the war.
Director Gordon Marciano of PDI Promoters, Inc., which will be handling the group while in the islands, said the Military Historical Tours group will be staying from March 6 to 9.
The 10-member group will be led by Hal Johnson of the 4th Marine Division, who fought on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Marshall Islands, Saipan, and Tinian; and B-29 pilot Leroy Florence, who arrived on Saipan in November 1944 as lieutenant in the 878th Squadron, 499th Bomb Group and subsequently left in August 1945.
MHT's John Powell is also expected to arrive to meet with veterans in the CNMI and discuss plans for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Saipan and Tinian on June 15, 2014.
The second group is under Valor Tours and is composed of Dan Owens, whose father and his best friend, Dan Godsy, served on B-29 on Tinian; David Wilson, whose father Bernard Eugene Wilson was a gunner with the 6th Bomb Group; Brent Petrie, whose uncle Harold B. Fulmer was with the 2nd Marine Division during the Liberation of Saipan; and Hume “Andy” Giles, whose father was with the 4th Marine Division on Saipan and Tinian and whose uncle, Arthur Nunn, helped build the North Field on Tinian with the 67th Battalion Seabee.
The Ambrose group is composed of war veterans who served in areas other than the Northern Marianas.
Gordon said all three tour groups will be staying at Pacific Islands Club before heading to Iwo Jima.
“We're very grateful for PIC for their continued support for the veterans tour group and their families,” he said.
The visiting veterans will take part in a wreath ceremony at the American Memorial Park Court of Honor at 9am on March 9.
The Valor Tours group will hold a similar ceremony on Tinian to be led by Mayor Ramon M. Dela Cruz on March 18.
Gordon said they will verify all veterans and their family members to make sure that they receive certificates and medallions during their stay in the CNMI.
He thanked the American Memorial Park, Marianas Visitors Authority, Veterans Affairs Office, and Jerry Facey.
“Since 1990, PDI continues to assist our veteran tour groups as their handling agents,” added Gordon.