Saipan resident Lt. Col. Albert S. Flores Jr., who is a decorated Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist, and a father, was presented with a Bronze Star medal yesterday at the American Memorial Park’s Court of Honor and Flag Circle, surrounded by his family and friends.
The medal, which honored Flores’ role in military operations in Afghanistan from October 2019 to October 2020, was presented to him by U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Mark Hashimoto, who is visiting the CNMI from the Marine Pacific Command in Hawaii. Joining Flores and Hashimoto was U.S. Indo-Pacific Command liaison officer for the CNMI Maj. Joshua Kettenton, and Flores’ family and friends.
In his brief remarks after receiving the medal, Flores said he wanted to be given his medal on Saipan so that his wife and children could see why he was gone for so long and to celebrate the achievement with him.
“This deployment was the hardest of my career. It was a long one, and it was unexpected. …We got the call that, in just two weeks I had to go and I had to leave home for 15 months, and [my wife] and I were not expecting that. We did it together, with her back home and me away, and the deployment itself was very challenging,” said Flores.
The Bronze Star is a U.S. Armed Forces decoration awarded to those in the military who deserve recognition for either heroic achievement, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.