51 military personnel deployed on Tinian


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres talks with local and military officials while inspecting Tinian last Friday. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Fifty-one sailors and Marines were deployed on Tinian to assist the people of the island after Typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc in the Marianas last week.

Although relief efforts are concentrated on Rota, where Mangkhut did the most damage, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres assured that the CNMI government is also looking after Tinian where a total of 26 structures sustained major damage and 22 minor damage, with 300 people affected.

Torres said he’s also in constant communication with Tinian Mayor Joey San Nicolas for updates. “We’ve got the report the other day [Wednesday], that’s the reason why I asked [Federal Emergency Management Agency] coordinator Willie Nunn to fly from Rota to Tinian.”

Torres and other Tinian officials met with Nunn, Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, and Task Force West commander Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, who is also the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group commander last Friday when they visited the island.

Torres, together with other Tinian municipal officials, personally thanked the representatives of the U.S. federal government for their assistance before, during, and after the storm.

“Thank you for all their services and in going around Tinian based on the request that we received. Thank you for all the recovery efforts that you guys made. I think not just the people of CNMI have realized that this cooperation and collaboration with each other is a lot better and things are moving smoothly. We can’t thank all of you guys enough.”

“[Based on] the preliminary view of the [structural] damage, there are about 26 major and 22 minor with 300 people affected one way or another. That’s the local report. …We may have missed one or two or even more. That’s the same thing with Rota.”

San Nicolas thanked the Marines for the help they provided the people of Tinian.

“I want to join the governor in expressing our thanks. Tinian benefited immensely; with those 51 members of Valiant Shield plus the heavy equipment, I said to one of the Marines that you did the work of 200 people. I’m proud to announce…that the majority of the work was done on Day 1.”

Wasp ESG ships, from amphibious assault and dock landing ship USS Ashland, provided logistic support by moving its personnel and other equipment between the islands of Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and Guam.

The military personnel were part of the U.S. forces that were preparing to participate in the Valiant Shield exercise.

Chatfield said that various sectors unite during times of disasters and crises. “I want to thank our local and federal government partners, DoD service members and government employees for their dedication and efforts here in the CNMI to restore our island community. It is critical moments like these when our partnership is strongest.”

Nunn lauded the combined efforts of all agencies involved. “I’m really grateful to hear about the immediate response and the partnership that was developing even before a presidential declaration had come. That partnership you have and the leadership you have in place only enhances what I do.”

Cooper said members of the Wasp ESG made a positive impact on the lives of the people of Tinian. “Sailors and Marines from the Wasp [ESG] should take great pride in the work they did for the great Americans living in the CNMI. The Navy-Marine Corps team arrived early, fully trained and made a positive impact on the lives of our fellow citizens.”

Wasp ESG’s aircraft—MV-22B Osprey, CH-53E Super Stallion—with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 (Rein.), and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 helped in transporting 550 personnel and the delivery of more than 24,000 lbs of cargo to support the FEMA-led aid efforts.

USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group also supported relief efforts by flying 11 sorties covering a combined distance of more than 2,500 miles. In addition, USS Antietam took position to act as a floating refueling point to aid helicopters that were transporting people, supplies and equipment between islands.

Forces in Joint Region Marianas, including the Navy Mobile Construction Battalion One, Detachment Guam, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam and the “Island Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 will continue supporting FEMA and local agencies in the region as recovery efforts continue.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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