Mayor of Tinian and Aguiguan Joey P. San Nicolas has every reason to be concerned for being ignored during the planning and execution of Operation Jeanne D’ Arc 2017, “a joint training exercise with French, British, and Japanese soldiers on Tinian,” according to a Joint Region Marianas media release. Imagine the backlash that would develop if a U.S. World War II veteran from the 2nd or 4th Marine Divisions, the 313th Bomb Wing or the 6th Naval Construction Brigade, a son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter had planned a memorial visit to Tinian a year ago, paid thousands of dollars and flown thousands of miles to visit, only to discover they were restricted from visiting North Field?
How would the public relations officer for JRM have managed that one!
Tinian tour guides receive individual travelers regularly. Not big business like on Saipan, but important to returning veterans and the Japanese, Okinawan, and Koreans who return to Tinian to memorialize their heritage.
This morning, I left our home on East 46th Street and turned north on Broadway to photograph historic sites that are now decorated with flame trees in full bloom, in particular the Hinode Shrine. Shortly after crossing 86th Street and before reaching the Japanese communication building, a polite young U.S. Marine stepped from a van rented from Avis and advised me that I had to turn back because of an ongoing military training exercise. This was irritating, for sure, but not devastating, as I can come back this weekend.
However, what if this had happened yesterday when I was leading a group of residents and guest from the world on a specially created tour of Tinian? Each person who signed up for the tour paid cash up front. Star Marianas Air got us to Tinian on time, and, with Deborah Fleming driving the van, we drove north on Broadway, just as I had this morning. Fortunately, we were not stopped and I believe all the guests departed Tinian pleased with their visit to our beautiful, peaceful island.
The story could have ended much worse. Had the tour been prevented from driving north on Broadway, as I was today, the atmosphere among our visitors would have been much different.
The potential conflict could have and should have been prevented. The founding fathers of the Commonwealth incorporated a mechanism into the Technical Agreement to the Covenant to deal with such problems. The Technical Agreement provides for the creation of the Tinian Civilian-Military Advisory Committee. Mayor JP has respectfully requested the establishment of CMAC to provide a forum to deal with this and other military-civilian issues, cooperatively and regularly, such as road maintenance on military leased land, solid waste disposal, and use of port facilities.
Hopefully, the failure of JRM to work cooperatively with the Mayor of the Municipality of Tinian and Aguiguan on the planning and execution of Operation Jeanne D’ Arc 2017 will stimulate the Tinian Legislative Delegation to make establishing the CMAC a priority.
Marpo Heights, Tinian