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Deanna Payas, left, and her niece Teresita Gleason find the names of relatives on the just-dedicated Purple Heart Memorial in Hagatna, Guam.
Deanna Payas, left, and her niece Teresita Gleason find the names of relatives on the just-dedicated Purple Heart Memorial in Hagatna, Guam. (Frank Whitman / Special to Stars and Stripes)
Deanna Payas, left, and her niece Teresita Gleason find the names of relatives on the just-dedicated Purple Heart Memorial in Hagatna, Guam.
Deanna Payas, left, and her niece Teresita Gleason find the names of relatives on the just-dedicated Purple Heart Memorial in Hagatna, Guam. (Frank Whitman / Special to Stars and Stripes)
Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 1315 salute during the National Anthem.
Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 1315 salute during the National Anthem. (Frank Whitman / Special to Stars and Stripes)
Col. Michael Boera, commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, addresses the audience.
Col. Michael Boera, commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, addresses the audience. (Frank Whitman / Special to Stars and Stripes)

About 250 people, mostly veterans and their families, gathered in Hagatna, Guam’s Skinner Plaza on Saturday to dedicate a monument to the 86 recipients of the Purple Heart from Guam.

The monument, with names of those who earned the honor inscribed, was built through the efforts of the two Guam chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, who hosted the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Franklin Artero, commander of Chapter 1315 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, told those assembled about the award’s origins.

He was followed by guest speaker Air Force Col. Michael Boera, commander of the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing of Andersen Air Force Base.

“Although it’s an award no servicemember wants to earn, it distinguishes its recipients more than any other, except perhaps the Medal of Honor,” Boera said of the Purple Heart. “To those of you here who have earned this honor, thank you for your service. You may not see yourselves as heroes, but you are; you took one for the team.”

Sen. Mark Forbes, the speaker of the Guam Legislature, also spoke, suggesting that in addition to words like honor, courage and bravery that are used to talk about combat veterans, the word “love” should be included.

He recounted having recently presented a legislative resolution to the widow of a soldier who received the Purple Heart posthumously. The soldier was motivated by love of his fellow soldiers, his community, and his family, including “a 12-year-old boy he never met — my son — who, because of his sacrifice and the sacrifices of those like him, will live free,” Forbes said. “That kind of love deserves our love in return.”

Local singer Danny Orlino, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience with his rendition of the song “Purple Heart.” Two wreaths were laid at the monument, which stands near several other memorials to Guam’s servicemembers, to the accompaniment of a rifle volley and taps.

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