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    Faces of MCIPAC: The CHamoru Marine Legacy

    Faces of MCIPAC: The CHamorro Marine Legacy

    Photo By Gunnery Sgt. Rubin Tan | U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Donald Pangelinan, training non-commissioned officer for Marine...... read more read more



    Story by Gunnery Sgt. Rubin Tan 

    Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz

    The Marine Corps shares a rich history with the people of Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands dating back to the landing of the first U.S. forces on Guam in June 1898, during the Spanish American War. Marine Barracks Guam was officially established in August 1898 and permanent structures completed in the village of Sumay in 1901. The Marines maintained a continuous presence on Guam until December 1941, when the island was captured by Imperial Japanese forces at the beginning of World War II. On July 21, 1944, Marines and soldiers of III Amphibious Corps landed on Guam retaking the island on August 10 concluding the Marianas campaign. Marine Barracks Guam was reactivated on June 1, 1946 and deactivated on November 10, 1992. On October 1, 2020, Marine Barracks Guam was reactivated as Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, continuing the long association between the U.S. Marines, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

    Corporal Donald Pangelinan is an infantry rifleman and a native CHamoru from Tanapag, a small village on Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Tanapag played a major part in Marine Corps history when on June 15, 1944, Tanapag Beach was the landing site for Marines from the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions, accompanied by soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 27th Division as they conducted an amphibious assault on the heavily fortified island defended by Imperial Japanese forces. The Battle of Saipan concluded with U.S. forces capturing the island on July 9, 1944, with both sides sustaining heavy casualties.

    Pangelinan currently serves as the training non-commissioned officer for Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz. His responsibilities are to ensure unit-level training events are properly planned, coordinated, and executed; that Marines are afforded the opportunity to attend professional military education; and they receive specialized training for their career advancement.

    The base, currently under construction, is named after the late Brigadier General Vicente “Ben” Thomas Garrido Blaz, a Guam native and the first CHamoru Marine to attain the rank of general officer. He later became Guam’s elected delegate to Congress. MCB Camp Blaz is the first newly constructed Marine Corps base since 1952.

    “In the past couple of years, you always hear about people who are able to put the place they are from on the map and it really is an example for us— especially for us,” said Pangelinan. “Not a lot of people know about the history with Guam, Saipan and other islands in the Marianas; so it’s really cool to know the base itself is named after a CHamoru.”

    In 2018, Pangelinan graduated from Marianas High School in Saipan and knew he wanted to be a Marine. His inspiration came from his father, Dustin Pangelinan Sr., and his uncles many of whom served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Like himself, his father served as an infantry rifleman and was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Dustin served with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment as part of 1st Marine Division and deployed twice to Iraq before being medically retired due to injuries sustained in Iraq in 2004.

    In 2019 Corporal Pangelinan received his first duty assignment after completing the initial training for all entry-level infantry Marines. His first duty station— 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division; the same regiment his father previously served in. A year later in 2020, Pangelinan deployed with his unit to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

    “Although I arrived to the unit during a different time period, a lot of the base principles and key points my dad wanted me to learn and to anticipate were all the same,” said Pangelinan. “Just being a part of the same things he went though at that point of his life, making the same run up 1st Sergeant’s Hill, the same helo pad, it was always in the back of my mind that helped me get through it— Oh, if my dad did this, I can too.”

    Pangelinan’s journey in the Marine Corps was his first time living on his own and away from family, an experience most Marines share. But unlike most Marines, living in the United States was a major culture shock.

    “I’m not going to lie, it was a really crazy experience and it wasn’t anything the Marine Corps could have prepared me for and it wasn’t anything my parents could prepare me for; and my parents tried,” explained Pangelinan. “It really was just me leaning on the Marines to my left and to my right.”

    To compound those feelings, Pangelinan was more than 6,100 miles from home.

    “I’m sure as much as I helped them with the whole ‘home sick’ feeling, they also helped me and we all took care of each other. You can’t put a value on the friendship and feeling of camaraderie we all had,” said Pangelinan.

    One Christmas while visiting family in Saipan, Pangelinan was able to present his girlfriend Tatiana with a gift in a little brown box. Although she did not understand what she was looking at, he explained inside was his military orders directing him to conduct a permanent change of duty station to MCB Camp Blaz.

    Pangelinan is now married to Tatiana and they have one son. With home now only roughly 140 miles away, they take the opportunity to visit Saipan when able. Pangelinan plans on serving in the Marine Corps for 20 years. Afterwards he hopes to continue living in the continental United States until his son is able to complete high school.

    “I would let joining the Marine Corps be my son’s choice and I will support him either way,” said Pangelinan. “It’s not for everyone and I will support any decision he makes.”

    On March 29, 2022, Pangelinan reenlisted in the Marine Corps and held his ceremony at the Tarague Overlook on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

    The Commission on CHamoru Language and the Teaching of the History and Culture of the Indigenous People of Guam enacted changes in CHamoru orthography in September 2018. A change at the time was made to update the spelling of CHamoru with a capital 'H'. The commission works with the local community to introduce and standardize new spelling and grammar in the CHamoru language.

    March is Guam History and CHamoru Heritage Month, also known as Mes CHamoru, celebrating the unique culture, heritage and history of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. CHamorus are the original inhabitants of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, descendants of Austronesians who arrived from Southeast Asia as early as 2000 BC.



    Date Taken: 03.29.2022
    Date Posted: 03.29.2022 19:13
    Story ID: 417430

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