This is a narrative of how Navy Base Guam, Santa Rita (NBG) came into being with the historic beginning of the island of Guam itself leading to the ultimate formation of the Guam Naval Base. Along the way, NBG’s vision and mission are briefly discussed and the current leadership roster of the base command is likewise identified. Significant information about the a number of base installations with their related services as well as recreational and amusement facilities designed for a worthwhile relaxation during some respite from work or a holiday with the family are also highlighted here. Reading along, one finds here important general and specific information on how a prospective tourist planning to visit Navy Base Guam may access and contact certain naval base facilities. Before the inception of the Americans and others from the outside, Guam had solely been inhabited by its own natives called Chamorros whose linguistic and cultural backgrounds are of Indo-Malaysian extraction very much akin to those of the Malaysians, Indonesians and Filipinos.
They coped with ordinary life through advanced fishing, horticulture and hunting wild games. Chronicles of early explorers reveal that Chamorros are adept in fine pottery-making and skilled in intricate weaving, not to mention their seamanship expertise in canoe-rowing and skillful craftsmanship in putting up their house structures unique only to the island. These house types are characterized with the enduring features of ancient origin constructed on top of solid stone pillars called latte stones. As far as family life is concerned, the Chamorros constitute a strongly matriarchal society. In fact, the enduring impact of Chamorro culture, language, music, dance and traditions even up to the present owes its persistence to the enduring power and prestigious status of women in Chamorro society. The Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who sailed in the name of the Spanish monarchy in an attempt to circumnavigate the Earth was the pioneer Westerner to first arrive on the island of Guam on March 6, 1521. Magellan lingered on the island for sometime to refill water and food for his crew.
Finally, in the year 1565, Spain, through Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, officially claimed Guam as its own. Thereafter, the Roman Catholic religion was introduced to the natives as a group of Jesuit missionaries led by Padre Diego Luis San Vitores arrived on the island. On top of what the Chamorros traditionally know in agricultural matters, they were also practically trained in the proper and more productive cultivation of maize (corn) and animal husbandry as well. Western-style clothing was introduced to the locals as early as during the same period. The Spanish-American War that consequently led to the ultimate defeat of the Spaniards ended the 333 long years of Spanish colonization of the island. Spain finally gave up Guam to the United States of America on June 21, 1898 by virtue of an agreement initiated through the Treaty of Paris. Hence, the island was transformed into a U.S. territory.
After a year, Guam was formally purchased by the United States at the price of USD 20 million. After effecting the turnover, U.S. President William McKinley came up with an executive order placing Guam under the administrative jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Navy. With U.S. Navy now at the helm of Guam’s governance, the island saw fast and dramatic progress specifically in the areas of agriculture, public health, land management, education, taxation and public works.
In 1941, Japanese aggression started the Second World War in Asia with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. In simultaneity with that tragic event, the island of Guam also suffered a similar attack from the Japanese aggressors. So that, on December 10, 1941, Guam finally fell in the hands of the Japanese. In this connection, the island was given a new Japanese name, “Omiya Jima” or “Great Shine Island” and compelled under duress to adapt the Japanese lifestyle while suffering unbearable difficulties in the hands of Japanese soldiers. Atrocities, grenade carnage and violations of women became ordinary events. However, the Chamorros who remained strongly loyal to the Americans didn’t relent an inch to resist the Japanese oppressors and this determination daunted the latter.
July 21, 1944 marked a significant day for the people of Guam as the United States and its Allied forces landed on Asan and Agat beaches to reclaim the island from the Japanese aggressors. After three weeks of intense and fierce battle, Guam was finally regained by the U.S. government. The war claimed a significant number of lives among the Chamorros and American servicemen who fought. Amid the debris and wreckage of the former U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Sumay, Apra Harbor, the American Stars and Stripes proudly flew again under the clear sky of this tropical island.
Located now at that very same spot is the Naval Base which was initially given the official name “Naval Operating Base” whose monicker, “The Pacific Supermarket, ” signified the support it gave to the ongoing anti-Japanese Pacific campaign during that time. On this very date, July 21, Guam celebrates it’s Liberation Day. As part of the holiday’s festive celebration, all government offices and the majority of business establishments are closed as long fiestas are held with a parade down Marine Corps Drive in Hagatna. The U.S. Naval force in Guam was re-established on May 30,1946. Upon the termination of the Second World War, governance of the island was under the jurisdiction of the Navy and a Navy captain became the Commander until 1949. In that very same year, U.S. President Harry S.Truman signed the Organic Act.
The Organic Act made Guam an unincorporated territory characterized by a limited, self-governing authority.This condition automatically granted the island’s denizens American citizenship. On the same date, the supervision of Guam’s Navy was assigned to the Department of Interior. In due course, the Commander of the Naval Logistics Command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet became the helmsman of the U.S. Naval Station in Guam. With the evolution and expansion of the Naval Base through the years, the Naval Station and the Naval Magazine Guam were eventually unified and given the name Naval Activities, Guam on October 1, 1994.
Ten years henceforth, its name officially became the Naval Base Guam (NBG) in 2004. In spite of the name-change, NBG remains to be the quintessence of might and maritime supremacy in the Western Pacific as it hosted the formation of several key tenant commands.
At this present time, several U.S. Navy commands that serve as auxiliary forces to the fleet in the Pacific are strategically accommodated at Guam Naval Base. As such, it is now home to the: 1) Commander, Naval Forces Marianas; 2) Commander, Submarine Squadron Fifteen; 3) Coast Guard Sector Guam; and 4) Naval Special Warfare Unit One. Furthermore, NBG supports 28 other tenant commands as well. Likewise stationed within the NBG premises is the submarine tender, USS Frank Cable.
The fact that NBG features various significant historic locales that cover a span of several eras makes the Base more unique and distinguished than the other navy bases around the world. In terms of population, NBG presently accommodates the presence of about 6,300 US Navy military personnel on active duty and 6,900 family members located in Guam. Moreover, a significant number of retired military personnel have decided to reside on the island for good. Naval Base Guam’s mission is to provides support to all the U.S. Pacific Fleet forces as follows: 1) the warfighters based on Naval Base Guam; 2) the warfighters they service and supply; 3) the commands that support the warfighters; and 4) the families of those stationed at the base. In order to accomplish that mission, the administrators behind Naval Base Guam are set to constantly achieve or even go beyond the supports and services their customers expect from them. Besides, it is also their objective to establish and preserve the naval base as a highly desirable milieu for work, recreation and family life. Finally, it is their unwavering commitment to fulfill the goal of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to transform the Navy into one of the best employers in the United States.
Over and above the naval base’s mission and vision are the following guiding principles: 1) A strong adherence to honor, courage and commitment which are the Navy’s core values; 2) A sincere prioritization of customers who set the requirements; 3) A profound obligation to forge a positive engagement with the community; and 4) A genuine operationalization of the precept, “The sailor is not happy if the family is not happy.” Captain Richard K. Wood II who hails from Annandale, Virginia and a Civil Engineering alumnus of the University Virginia is the Commanding Officer of Naval Base Guam. Second in command to Captain Wood is the Executive Officer in the person of Commander Kevin Gillam, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer who was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Next in line is Naval Base Guam’s Commad Master Chief John T. Lawry from East Moline, Illinois. He was inducted to his present office on September 1, 2010. Master Chief Lawry joined the U.S. Navy way back in June 1988.
Naval Base Guam constitutes seven installations/commands, namely: 1) Barrigada; 2) North Finegayan; 3) Ordnance Annex; 4) Orote Point/Apra Harbor (Main Base); 5) Polaris Point; 6) Tenjo Valley; and 7) Sasa Valley Fuel Facilities. Naval Base Guam Barrigada is located south of Route 16 close to the Barrigada Village where NCTS transmission antennas are installed. It is also where the ANGC Sports Bar and Grill is found as well as the one and only golf course in Guam: the Admiral Nimitz Golf Course.
The Naval Telecommunications Station Guam (NCTS Guam) stands at the Naval Base Guam North Finegayan Telecommunications site which is located northwest of Guam. Naval Base Guam Ordnance Annex (formerly, Naval Magazine Guam), which is open 24/7 a week, serves as a key storage and supply point for various types of weapons and ammunition, combat vehicles, maintenance tools and equipment. It is found more or less one mile southeast of the central base. A gymnasium is located at the Ordnance Annex as well.
The main base of Guam Naval Base is also known as “Big Navy Guam” has its main gate at the Marine Corps Drive and is open 24/7 a week. However, the back gate in Agat is open on a daily basis (except during holidays) from 600 hours to 800 hours and from 1530 hours to 1800 hours. Recreation facilities at the main base include Marina, a beach, a salt-water tank, a pool, a bowling facility, a gymnasium, baseball/softball/football fields, a tennis court and a skate park.
The following services are likewise provided at the main base of Naval Base Guam: 1) NEX Main Exchange; 2) Autoport Gas Station; 3)Autoport Service/Auto parts; 4)Laundry/Dry Cleaning; 5) Home Gallery; 6. Home and Garden Center; 7) Commissary; 8. NEX Food Court; 9) McDonald’s; 10) Subway; 11) Typhoons/Nap’s/C’ Street Cafe; 12) Clipper Landing; 13)Gateway Inn; and 14) Laundromat.
Polaris Point on the eastern part of Apra Harbor may be reached via the Marine Corps Drive two miles north of the main base’s front gate. Comparable with the other installations, recreational facilities featuring cabanas and restrooms and a camping area with primitive motifs are found at Polaris Point which operates the Polaris Point Club as well. It is certainly appreciable that the Polaris Point gate is regularly deployed with guards 24/7.
Annually, Polaris Point is the venue of special activities mostly in line with July 4th celebrations wherein people enjoy watching outdoor concerts as well as other big events particularly associated with Navy Morale, Welfare and Recration (MWR). Included among the goods and services availed of are through the NEX Mini-Mart and in special events sponsored by the Polaris Point Club which may be accessed by getting in touch with MWR. The “Fuel Farm”—monicker for the Defense Fuel Support Point Guam—which is under the operational jurisdiction of Naval Base Guam, is equipped with a storage-transfer-pumping capacity for various marine and aviation fuel types. Nevertheless, the command restricts access into it as only official business transactions are permitted. Visitors may, however, be given privilege of entry to the facility by calling (671) 339-7106.
A wide variety of enjoyable activities are offered for family relaxation and amusement at Navy Base Guam with its existing facilities designed for entertainment, recreation, fitness and sports, refreshment (with an array of food and beverages), and liberty programs. One may also find in the compound a ticketing office for travel and tour purposes. A number of year-round entertainment treats are made available at Naval Base Guam through The Big Screen Theater located in Building 1981. The theater ordinarily shows free movies on Fridays at 1900 hours and 2130 hours and on Saturdays and Sundays at 1300 hours, 1530 hours and 1900 hours. Movie listings may be checked online or by making a call to its 24-hour hotline. For refreshment needs, there is a snack bar at the theater.
Notwithstanding movies, special events sponsored by NBG are also held at the theater through MWR Guam. The First Tee’s Nine Core Values Golf Program, Cheer Clinic with Broncos Cheerleaders, and Valentine’s Dinner, among others, have made the theater area a suitable venue. The Big Screen Theater may also be reserved by special arrangement for private parties and command gatherings. Booking needs are ably facilitated by the congenial staff of the Navy MWR Information, Tickets and Travels office located at MWR Admin Office, Bldg. SB1, Aldrich Rd., NBG. The Office is open from 900 hours till 1200 hours and from 1300 hours till 1700 hours.
Tour packages offered by the Office include: 1) Adventure River Boat Cruise; 2)Dolphin Watching Adventure; and 3) City Sightseeing Tour. Besides these, different family-oriented adventure treats like Tarzan Waterpark, Onward Waterpark, Atlantis Submarine, Underwater World, among others, are available as well. If one needs a time-out to relax and recreate, several recreation programs and activities are offered by MWR. The Rec-N-Crew is a place one may go for outdoor recreation and adventures where equipment and gears may likewise be rented for kayaking, biking, camping and snorkeling.
To relax and unwind, one must not miss the Gab Gab, San Luis, Dadi Beaches and the Silver Dolphin recreation center at NBG. There’s also Silver Dolphin which makes available game facilities like a pool table and gaming computers, among others. Single sailors and bachelors on active duty whose ages range between 18 and 25 may enjoy moments of their lives while stationed at NBG through the Liberty Program’s Single Sailor Sanctuary where facilities for wireless internet access, computer use, as well as X-box, PS2 and PS3 among others, are offered for free.
One may enjoy the food and beverage offerings of MWR with an array of drinks and savory meals like the weekly Mongolian barbecue and Sunday Brunch served at Top o’the Mar. Off-site catering services for special events as well as banquet/conference rooms for private functions may likewise be availed of by reservation.
An assortment of restaurants at Guam naval base offer superb customer service, a relaxing ambience and mouth-watering meals, namely: Clipper Landing, C-Street Cafe, Game Time Sports Grill, Hot Stuff Pizza, Mean Gene’s Burgers, Molly Mcgees Irish Pub and Naps Alabama BBQ. Fitness programs as well as aquatic and youth sports to maintain one’s body in tough and top condition are made available at NBG through several facilities for these particular purposes. There’s Charles King Gym with its aerobic fitness equipment, weight rooms, sauna rooms for men and women, basketball courts, indoor racquetball courts, a family fitness room and a dance room. MWR Swimming Pools are a revitalizing site to have a refreshing dip into cool water and for sun-bathing. Swimming lessons for children and adults, water aerobics and others may be availed of at the same compound.
In this connection, the Guam Youth Sports Association (GYSA), which promotes an active lifestyle for the youth gives sports opportunities for youthful athletes to measure their physical prowess and to equip them with the time-honored principles of teamwork, leadership and discipline.
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