(LibertySociety.com) – From the time of the Spanish American War in 1898, US Marines were on the island of Guam until the Marine Barracks were deactivated in 1992. In October 2020, the Corps made plans to return to the island, administratively activating the Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz (MCB). The branch stated the presence of Marines in Guam was to deter and defend the Indo-Pacific region and showed the strength of America’s commitment to its alliance with Japan.
At the time, the USMC planned to formally activate the base in 2023, and just like clockwork, they did just that. On January 26, the Corps held a ceremony celebrating the first newly-constructed base for the military branch in 70 years.
The Opening Ceremony
Top Guam and Japanese defense officials were present during the naming event, which included a flag ceremony, hundreds of Marines performing, and a flyby from the FA-18C Hornets. According to The Wall Street Journal, Marine Corps Commandant General David Berger stressed that he wants his troops in a strategic position on “that side of the international date line” so if there is a fight, his Marines are ready and in place. In times of peace, those stationed on the island will practice maneuvers and live-fire exercises to stay sharp. Although there are only about 100 Marines currently present at the new base, the rest assigned to the area should arrive by the end of 2024. Camp Blaz won’t be fully operational for about another year. As of now, the base doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the number of troops officials want in the area.
History and the Name
Camp Blaz got its name from Brig. General Vicente “Ben” Tomás Garrido Blaz, who was a POW held in occupied Guam by the Japanese during World War II and survived. He went on to earn the honor of highest-ranking Chamorro in the Marine Corps and commanded Marines from the 9th regiment. He was also Guam’s delegate to Congress for eight years. Although he passed away in 2014, his grandsons and sister attended the event in his honor.
The Marine Corps announced it would uphold Blaz’s memory and ideals by respecting Guam’s culture and the environment. The branch said it would also establish a positive relationship with the local residents in the area during and after the development process.
Although some people on the surrounding islands were worried about explosions and war games going on for training purposes, the US heard their concerns and began working with local government officials and residents so everyone could be happy with the troop’s presence.
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