The Battles for Saipan and Tinian
By: Ranger Brooke Nevitt, American Memorial Park
Remembrance- Fall 2019 article
At 8:40 am on June 15, 1944, American forces invaded Saipan’s western beaches. Over the next 25 days these brave men would fight thousands of Japanese soldiers across the 45 sq. mile island until the island was declared secure on July 9, 1944.
This year marked the 75th Anniversary of the Battles for Saipan and Tinian. To commemorate this pivotal event, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Governor Ralph DLG. Torres and Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios kicked off the 75th Anniversary special events with a proclamation signing ceremony.
Following the proclamation signing, on June 11 the Saipan and Northern Islands Municipal Council coordinated the Marianas Memorial blessing and remembrance ceremony. This annual ceremony recognizes and honors the indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians whose lives were lost during World War II. Wreaths were laid at the base of the memorial where the names of over 900 civilians who perished are inscribed on the granite panels.
On June 14, 2019, at sunset, all came together to remember this same night 75 years ago, when US Servicemen spent the night on ships offshore awaiting the fateful morning’s assault on the landing beaches and as civilians hid in caves awaiting the unknown. This gathering was a time of reflection and remembrance to honor the bravery and sacrifices of the American military and the civilians caught between two nations at war.
Over 200 people walked with LED candles alongside the invasion beaches lined with thousands of U.S. and CNMI flags. Along the way walkers were welcomed to learn more about the events of June 15, 1944 at learning stations with park rangers from American Memorial Park, Pacific Historic Parks education staff and volunteers. At the turnaround point all were greeted by the beautiful music of the Third III Marine Expeditionary Force Band.
The following day, on June 15, a wreath laying ceremony was held at the Court of Honor at the American Memorial Park. Guest speakers at the event included CNMI Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, American Memorial Park Superintendent Barbara Alberti, Retired Business Executive and World War II Survivor David M. Sablan, and Commander, Joint Region Marianas Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield. Special events throughout the month of June included the American Memorial Park and the CNMI Museum multimedia exhibition: “Marianas Peoples, the Battles of Saipan and Tinian,” sponsored by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council. The exhibit featured recently declassified photos and film of the civilian wartime experience never before seen on Saipan.
This year marked 75 years since the Battles for Saipan and Tinian. However, everyday American Memorial Park works to share the stories of this important period of history. National Park Service and Pacific Historic Parks staff work together to implement a year round calendar of educational programs for the visiting public and the island community. Annual program highlights such as Reading Ranger, Every Kid Outdoors, Junior Ranger, Art in the Park, and Icons of World War II are just a few of the many opportunities to experience World War II history at the park. Come join us at the Park!
For more information log on to https://www.nps.gov/amme.