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“TODAY we honor and recognize the families of our island’s fallen soldiers,” Speaker Judi Won Pat said at a special ceremony during yesterday’s legislative session.
Family members of 30 of Guam’s fallen soldiers received the Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice (I Milåyan I Mås Takhilo’ na Sakrifisu) to commemorate and honor their sacrifice.
The ceremony was the first of several. A total of 150 soldiers will be honored. All the names have been placed on a plaque that will be on display at the legislative hall.
Fallen service members for all branches were presented with the medal, including soldiers of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom.
A Guam flag and a legislative resolution were also presented to the family members.
The design of the Medal of Ultimate Sacrifice is unique in that it features the artwork of a local student. An islandwide art contest had been held for the centerpiece of the medal. Angelica Gomez, a 3rd-grader from Santa Barbara Catholic School, won the contest.
Dorothy Lukeala received the medal to honor her son, Joshua Lukeala, of the U.S. Army.
“I’m very grateful. This lets me know that the people of Guam and the senators haven’t forgotten,” she said. Mrs. Lukeala described the pride she feels for her son. “It’s bittersweet. As a mother, as parents, we still want our son. At least the people still remember the fallen.”
“It was an honor to be included, to recognize the service members and their families who made that sacrifice in defense of our country,” said Rear Adm. Tilgham Payne, Joint Region Marianas commander. Payne, who helped present the medal to the families, said: “Their sacrifice is appreciated. Service members have given their lives in order for the rest of us to enjoy our freedom. They will not be forgotten.”
The creation and presentation of the plaque and the medals are in fulfillment of Public Law 30-193, authored by Speaker Won Pat and Sen. Ben Pangelinan.