The Commonwealth said its goodbyes to the U.S. Department of Defense servicemen who were deployed here following Super Typhoon Yutu four months ago and played a huge role in the CNMI’s recovery efforts.
Yesterday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, members of the Legislature, members of the CNMI community, the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and more came out to honor the men who worked day in and day out to restore the Commonwealth’s sense of normalcy and provided relief following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu.
What the servicemen did for the people of Saipan was more than they could have asked for, Apatang said.
“I wish they could stay much longer but they have to go back. What they did was really a huge help for our people here, especially for those who had their houses completely demolished. Now they can return to their normal way of life,” he said.
Apatang said the servicemen did not just build roofs, they contributed to making the lives of the people of Saipan less stressful and traumatic.
“To lose a dwelling is to lose a home. That is the big challenge to overcome, to make a person focus on what’s ahead rather than behind. Families are safer now and are protected from risks from the elements because you gave them shelter. I am very confident that the families here on Saipan will always remember your faces. The faces of those who worked hard to put a roof above their heads and keep them from harm’s way,” he said.
Chatfield, who led the U.S. Department of Defense mission, said that they did what they could to bring back the spirits of those who were traumatized and devastated by Yutu.
“We did what we could to help, to respond, and to raise the spirits of those we encountered. I was really given an honor to lead a mission here of the joint forces that came to help. It’s your spirit that inspired us, the military, to complete our mission,” she said.
Chatfield said that the U.S DOD servicemen and the Federal Emergency Management Agency were able to remove 13,500 cubic yards of debris, install over 1,500 tents as temporary shelters, offloaded more than 1,079 passengers and 1,760,402 lbs of cargo on Saipan, and installed over 560 temporary roofs.
Saying goodbye yesterday were members of the U.S DOD 84th Engineering Battalion, 374th Civil Engineering Squadron, 18th Civil Engineering Squadron, and the Naval Construction Battalion on Tinian.
“It has been an expressive effort for all, and this final rotation of service members have done a tremendous job,” said Chatfield.