Honoring Operation Flintlock

Kwajalein Commander Andrew Morgan and his wife Stacey welcome Iroojlaplap Mike Kabua to the Operation Flintlock ceremony at Kwajalein last week. They are surrounded by, from left, Host Nation Director Major Dae Choi, M.I. Resort General Manager Hirobo Obeketang and USAG-KA Host Nation’s Mike Sakaio. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

HILARY HOSIA

The remains of a fallen US service member believed missing since World War II in the Marshall Islands was finally homebound last week following the official handover by the US Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll (USAG-KA) at the Richardson Theater last Friday.

The development was one of the many highlights during the four-day celebrations in honor of the 80th Operation Flintlock Anniversary. Operation Flintlock was the name of the US invasion of Kwajalein Atoll in February 1944. The atoll was a major military installation of Japan and thousands of Americans and Japanese soldiers died in the several day battle before the US declared victory. Kwajalein was a key stepping stone to ultimate victory for the US in its Pacific campaign during World War II.

The remains of a fallen US service member recently discovered in the Marshall Islands was front and center at the Richardson Theater last Friday during commemoration ceremonies of the 80th anniversary of Operation Flintlock. Saluting by flag draped container with the remains is Army Command Sgt. Major Ernest Miller. Kwajalein Nitijela Member Kitlang Kabua, at back right, joined with other Army officers for the official ceremony. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The remains of the service member were sealed in a small container wrapped in a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action drape.

Kwajalein Paramount Chief Mike Kabua, Members of Parliament from Kwajalein Kilinwojke Kabua and Kitlang Kabua, Kwajalein Representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Connie Livai Jr and officials from Kwajalein Atoll Local Government joined USAG-KA Command and Kwajalein community during the official handover.

Prior to the handover, Marshallese Rikatak students Elaisa Riklon sang the Marshallese anthem while Shimiko Chong Gum Loeak sang the Japanese anthem.

The previous day, the famed traditional stick dancers from Ujae Atoll performed the “Jobwa” at the Richardson Theater. The Jobwa is only performed on special occasions with the permission of Irooj Mike. Members of the garrison were invited for photo ops with the performers following the show. A presentation of Operation Flintlock was broadcasted on the big screen following the Jobwa dance.

Meanwhile on the US Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, members of the US POW/MIA Accounting Agency conducted an honorable carry ceremony on Thursday (Hawaii time) to oversee the transfer of what the agency declares as “possible osseous material” obtained from the Marshall Islands. The possible osseous material has been transferred to DPAA facilities for further analysis and possible identification, the DPPA website states.

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