NOCVA has undertaken a variety of initiatives to serve Chamorro veterans. Any activity that NOCVA engages in is reviewed at the national office to ensure that it is consistent with fulfilling NOCVA’s mission in the following areas:
Serve as the voice of Chamorro veterans at national-level events, advocating on their behalf to defend their rights, protect their interests, and promote their achievements
Honor the memory and service of Chamorro veterans through commemorative events and initiatives and maintain a website that features information of interest to Chamorro veterans
Prepare informational presentation to Chamorro veterans to explain how the U.S. political process affects them; encourage active participation to leverage political power in order to influence legislation that affects them and the Chamorro people
Establish a network of members throughout the 50 states, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands — connected by regional coordinators and linked nationally — to help share information, effectively organize, and build coalitions with similar groups to build political power
Research & Analysis
Monitor services delivered by government agencies and organizations that serve veterans to ensure that they are meeting the unique needs of Chamorro veterans; monitor current legislation for its impact on Chamorro veterans and develop appropriate responses
Chamorro Veterans Commemoration Ceremony
On 24 March 2012, despite a steady rain, more than 50 people gathered in the Nation’s capital to participate in a historic event on behalf of the Chamorro people. For the first time, a commemoration ceremony was held to honor the 70 servicemen from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands who died during the Vietnam War.
This event, organized under the direction of the National Organization of Chamorro Veterans in America (NOCVA), in coordination with the National Park Service, hosted visiting Chamorro veterans to participate in a solemn and deeply moving event. The ceremony was initiated, planned, and conducted entirely by 15 Chamorro veterans working together on behalf of the Chamorro people from Guam and the CNMI.
Because of the great distance to Washington, D.C., family and friends in the islands, as well as throughout the country, often cannot travel to see the names of their loved ones on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. For this reason, NOCVA (a newly established national advocacy organization for Chamorro veterans) chose to conduct this ceremony as its first initiative.
In spite of their small population, the young men from Guam and the CNMI had the highest casualty rates during the Vietnam War, compared to all the other states and territories. These fallen heroes made it possible for us to enjoy the freedom of living in the greatest country in the world – the United States of America. As US citizens proud of their Chamorro ancestry and heritage, Chamorro veterans have no greater honor than to ensure that the sacrifices of their Chamorro brothers will never be forgotten.
The hour-long ceremony consisted of the following: opening remarks by Cel Aguigui; the Pledge of Allegiance led by Larry Cruz; the playing of the Guam Hymn; a memorial prayer read by Terri Guevara Smith; a recitation of the 70 names of the fallen by Joe Torres, Joseph Damian, Mariano Cruz, Joaquin Nauta, Jose Meno, Tom Muna, Gregorio Concepcion, and Frank Blas; a wreath laying by Frank Blas, Leonard Ranches, Jose Meno, Pedro Iriarte, and Roque Acfalle; and a final sounding of Taps by Jaime “Jim” Padre.
Various news media in Guam and the CNMI wrote articles about the event, which is of great interest to the Chamorro people and the families and friends of the fallen soldiers.
NOCVA created a video (DVD) of the ceremony, which allows us to share the experience with the largest number of people possible, especially those who were not able to attend, senior Chamorros, families of the fallen, and their children. Copies of the DVD were given to our regional coordinators as well as selected representatives throughout the 50 states, Guam, and the CNMI, so they can show it at their gatherings. The DVD is available for purchase to everyone who is interested By reaching out to as many people as possible, we can ensure that the sacrifices made by our Chamorro brothers are finally recognized and respected.
Many helped to make this special event possible, especially the visiting Chamorro veterans from North Carolina and Florida, the local Washington metro-area Chamorro community under the direction of the Guam Society of America, and the National Park Service.
"Chelu, We Remember You" Project
The “Chelu, We Remember You” Project is a NOCVA initiative that grew out of the historic Chamorro Veterans Commemoration Ceremony that was held in the Nation’s capital on 24 March 2012. The ceremony honored the 70 fallen heroes from Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands who died during the Vietnam War with a Recitation of Names and a Wreath-Laying at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. On that day, NOCVA National Coordinators were presented with an extraordinary gift.
National Park Service Ranger Donald S. Adam had made rubbings of the names of all 70 casualties from Guam that are etched on the Wall. He then presented the original rubbings to NOCVA coordinators, to be given “to the families.”
These rubbings are traditionally made when a visitor to the Wall finds the name of a loved one and wants to remember the experience with a keepsake. Visitors are allowed to place a sheet of paper over the name and rub it with pencil; the rubbing that is created is the exact replica of the name as it appears on the Wall. For many, this is treasured item that keeps the memory of their loved one alive.
For family and friends in the islands who cannot easily travel to Washington, DC, obtaining such a memento in person is often difficult or impossible. Therefore, as part of its mission to recognize and honor the service of Chamorro veterans, NOCVA has started to search for the families of our fallen brothers — our chelus. This effort is known as the “Chelu, We Remember You” Project.
NOCVA is dedicated to locating the family of each of the 70 soldiers from Guam* whose name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Once a family member is identified, NOCVA will present them with the following:
- The original rubbing of the name as it appears on the Wall
- A complimentary DVD of the Chamorro Veterans Commemoration Ceremony held in Washington, DC, on 24 March 2012
- A letter from NOCVA explaining the “Chelu, We Remember You” Project
To assist in this project — either by providing contact information for any of the 70 names or to participate in presenting materials once the family is located — please contact us.
*NOCVA recognizes that the list of 70 does not include Chamorros who entered military service outside of Guam; as we receive additional information, they will also be honored in this initiative.
FALLEN HEROES FROM GUAM AND CNMI*
AGUON, JOSE QUINATA, PSG, ARMY
ASANOMA, FRANCISCO M, SGT, ARMY
BENAVENTE, DAVID GUERRERO, SSGT, MARINE CORPS
BIAGINI, MARK FREDERICK, SGT, ARMY
BLAS, ANTHONY MARTIN M, SP5, ARMY
BLAZ, JAMES LUJAN, LCPL, MARINE CORPS
BORJA, JUAN SANTOS, SSG, ARMY
CABRERA, JOAQUIN PALACIOS, SSG, ARMY
CAMACHO, DAVID BITANGA, SSG, ARMY
CARTER, DONALD SUMINGUIT, PFC, ARMY
CASTRO, JUAN PASCUAL R, SSG, ARMY
CEPEDA, JUAN DUENAS, SGT, ARMY
CRUZ, EDWARD CRUZ, PO2, NAVY
CRUZ, ENRIQUE SALAS, SSG, ARMY
CRUZ, JOSEPH AGUIGUI, PFC, MARINE CORPS
CRUZ, JOSEPH WILLIAM, SP4, ARMY
CRUZ, PEDRO AFLAGUE, SSG, ARMY
CUASITO, RONALD PEREZ, PFC, MARINE CORPS
DAMIAN, ALLAN JAMES, LCPL, MARINE CORPS
DELA-CRUZ, FREDERICO V, CPL, ARMY
DELEON, HERMAN BORJA, PFC, ARMY
DIAZ, EDWARD REYES, SP5, ARMY
DOYLE, ALBERT BARCINAS, SGT, ARMY
DUENAS, JOSE BAMBA, SSG, ARMY
EAY, RUDY EDEJER, CPL, ARMY
ESCANO, JUANITO MAIQUEZ, SGT, ARMY
ESPINOSA, VICENTE T, SGT, MARINE CORPS
ESTEVES, FERNANDO BARCINAS, SGT, ARMY
EUSTAQUIO, JOSEPH MARTIN, SGT, ARMY
FINNEY, HAROLD JAMES JR, SP4, ARMY
FLORES, BENNY SAN NICOLAS, SGT, ARMY
FLORES, DAVID CRUZ, SP4, ARMY
FUNES, DAVID JOHN, SGT, ARMY
GORTON, DAVID ATOIGUE, SP4, ARMY
GUERRERO, PEDRO ROSARIO, SSG, ARMY
GUERRERO, VICENT FEJA, CPL, ARMY
HERRERA, JOSE BABAUTA, PFC, ARMY
MARIANO, JESUS ROSA, SP4, ARMY
MENDIOLA, ROBERT LG, SP4, ARMY
MENO, JESUS QUINENE, PFC, ARMY
MESA, TOMAS REYES, SP4, ARMY
MOREHAM, VICENT PINAULA, CPL, ARMY
NEDEDOG, EMILIO NINAISEN, SGT, ARMY
PANGELINAN, GREGORIO L, CPL, ARMY
PANGELINAN, PEDRO CABRERA, SSG, ARMY
PEREDA, HENRY PANGELINAN, SGT, ARMY
PEREZ, JOHN ANTHONY, SP4, ARMY
PEREZ, VICENTE DUENAS, SFC, ARMY
QUENGA, JOHNNY CRUZ, PSG, ARMY
QUIDACHAY, JESUS AQUININGOC, SP4, ARMY
REYES, TOMAS GARCIA, SSG, ARMY
RIPPEL, EUGENE RAYMOND, SP4, ARMY
RIVERA, THOMAS SALAS, SP4, ARMY
RODRIGUEZ, LUCAS HERRERA, PFC, ARMY
SABLAN, ANTONIO QUICHOCHO, SFC, ARMY
SABLAN, IGNACIO ESPINOSA, LCPL, MARINE CORPS
SABLAN, JOHN TENORIO, PFC, ARMY
SABLAN, THOMAS QUICHOCHO, SSG, ARMY
SANCHEZ, GEORGE SANTIAGO, CPL, ARMY
SAN NICOLAS, RUFO SANTOS, LCPL, MARINE CORPS
SAN NICOLAS, VICTOR P, SP4, ARMY
SANTOS, ENRIQUE ROSARIO, SGT, ARMY
SANTOS, ERNEST PABLO, PFC, ARMY
SANTOS, JAMES EDWARD ANDER, SP4, ARMY
SANTOS, RAFAEL SALAS, SSG, ARMY
TAITAGUE, JOHNNY SALAS, SP4, ARMY
TORRE, FRANCIS SAN NICOLAS, SGT, MARINE CORPS
TORRES, PRISHARDO JOSE T, SP4, ARMY
VIOLETT, JAMES EDWARD, CPL, MARINE CORPS
YOKOI, RALPHAEL SGAMBELLURI, PFC, MARINE CORPS
*At the time of the Vietnam War, the military recruiting station was located in Guam; therefore, those who enlisted were recorded as having Guam as their home-state-of-record, regardless of whether they were originally from the surrounding islands of Saipan, Rota, or Tinian, now referred to as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.