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    Palau Honors its U.S. Military Veterans for their Legacy of Service

    Palau Honors its U.S. Military  Veterans for their Legacy of  Service

    Photo By Capt. PHILIP REGINA | Deceased veteran Sergeant Major Adalbert Eledui, served 23 years in US Army. ...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. PHILIP REGINA 

    Task Force Oceania

    KOROR, Palau – The population of the Republic of Palau is just under 22,000. For a country of its size, many of its citizens volunteer to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces every year, so much so that military service is an important part of the local culture and identity.

    “As part of Task Force Oceania, I have learned that the U.S. military has a great impact in Palau," said U.S. Army Sgt. Florence Yangilmau, team’s Palau’s cultural liaison and noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “From all the World War II relics and monuments to the continuous support of the civic action teams, and the U.S. Navy ships that routinely pass through the island chain, and the old U.S. Coast Guard post at Anguar, the military has always been a big part of our lives here.”

    Approximately 500 Palauans currently serve as volunteers in the U.S. armed forces. After their service, many Palauans continue serving in local government, business, and community leadership roles.

    There are a variety of reasons why Palauans choose to serve. Some feel a sense of duty to help defend the U.S. and by extension Palau, while others join as a means of gaining skills and independence.

    “I absolutely recommend military service for Palauans,” said Duke Gibson, a Palauan and U.S. veteran who now works for the Protected Area Network Fund as a site advisor. “It provides a lot of opportunities for those that join." He continued, “But what I got most from my time in the military is confidence, the confidence to accept when I’m wrong and to go and find the answer wherever it is.”

    To understand why the people of Palau join the U.S. Armed Forces, we must understand the historical ties between the two countries.
    In 1947, following World War II, under the auspices of the United Nations as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the United States assumed administration of Palau. Then in 1982, Palau signed a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

    Later, in 1994, Palau gained its independence and established diplomatic relations with the United States with the entry into force of the Compact, under which the U.S. remains responsible for Palau’s defense until 2044.

    From the time of the initial signing of the compact, the people of Palau have left their island nation to begin new lives as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Like many service members, they gain additional training, education, and experience away from home but some also get married. The current president’s family was no exception.

    “My father first moved to the U.S. by enlisting as a medic in the U.S. Army,” said Surangel S. Whipps Jr., the 9th elected president of the Republic of Palau. “After his enlistment, he attended the University of Baltimore, where he met my mother,” added Whipps Jr. The history of military service runs deep for the people of Palau and for some, predates the signing of the compact.

    “My brother, John J. Kintaro served from 1966 to 1971 and became a captain and a helicopter pilot in Vietnam,” said Jimmy Kintaro, John Kintaro’s youngest brother. “In fact, he was the first person in all of Micronesia to become a helicopter pilot in the U.S. military. John was also the first and only Palauan to die in combat in Vietnam,” he said.
    It is unfortunate that for many Americans, Palau remains little more than a mysterious tiny island nation in the giant Pacific Ocean, but this tiny island has contributed and sacrificed so much in service to the U.S. and it is important for all service members to be aware of the continued service of the people of Palau in the U.S. military.

    “The people of Palau welcome the U.S. military,” said Whipps Jr. “We think it’s a great opportunity for us to both provide security and stability in the region and to really help the people achieve their Palauan dream in Palau.”

    Task Force Oceania is an Army Task Force consisting of Soldiers from all components of the U.S. Army; active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard. Their mission is to provide continuous presence in the Pacific Island Countries located in Oceania, assist the U.S. embassy as needed, and reinforce lasting and meaningful relationships in the region.

    (Task Force Oceania Public Affairs interviewed Jimmy Kintaro for this article. From the time this interview was conducted, Jimmy Kintaro unfortunately passed away. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.)



    Date Taken: 07.12.2021
    Date Posted: 07.12.2021 23:02
    Story ID: 400760
    Location: KOROR, PW
    Hometown: KOROR, PW
    Hometown: HONOLULU, HI, US

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