Washington D.C. – At the request of Mike and Erlinda Villagomez and on behalf of Saipan VFW Post 3457 and the 60th Anniversary Commemoration Committee Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and Congressman John Tierney delivered a plaque and medallion to Richard Urie of Peabody, Massachusetts on Saturday.
Mr. Urie served as a radio operator in the United States Marines on Saipan during World War II. Congressman Tierney represents the area north of Boston, where Mr. Urie lives.
About 60 of Mr. Urie’s fellow veterans were on hand at Brooksby Retirement Village, giving Sablan and Tierney an opportunity to discuss many issues of concern with those who have served in our Nation’s military.
“Mr. Urie, and thousands of young Americans like him, fought terrible battles in World War II, far from home and in places most of them had never even heard of – places like the Northern Mariana Islands. Their sacrifice and valor protected America; and it is a great honor to be able to have this meeting with Mr. Urie and some of his fellow veterans today,” Congressman Sablan said.
[Congressman John Tierney, Paul Donaghue and Beth Driscoll (Richard Urie’s children), local veteran Richard Urie, and Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan during a meeting with veterans Saturday at Brooksby Village in Peabody, Massachusetts.]
Urie’s dog tags were uncovered on Saipan in 1981 by Mike Villagomez, a teacher at ChaCha Junior High, and his wife Erlinda. Randy Kruid, a U.S. Deputy Marshal on Saipan, learned of the tags and located Mr. Urie using the internet. U.S. Attorney Tim Moran, who now lives in Boston, returned the dog tags to Urie last month; and Congressman Sablan was asked to deliver the plaque and medallion to the 86-year-old veteran. To date, over 3,000 medallions have been bestowed to veterans of the World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian and throughout the Pacific through the auspices of Saipan VFW Post 3457 and the Commemorative Committee.
Congressman Tierney acknowledged the efforts of the Saipan organizations “This ceremony is especially moving, as we recognize Mr. Urie on behalf of a group of veterans who know the sacrifices our military men and women endure, and who strive to recognize them all across our country. I feel privileged to meet Mr. Urie, hear his stories and thank him for his service and sacrifice,” Tierney said during the event.
“I also want to thank Mr. Urie,” Congressman Sablan added. “He and his fellow servicemen changed the course of history for the Northern Marianas. We were not part of United States when Mr. Urie fought on our islands. But the American invasion put us on the path that ultimately freed us from centuries of colonial rule and led to U.S. citizenship and representation in Congress for the people of the Marianas. So the medallion that I presented to Mr. Urie is rightly inscribed: ‘Our Grateful Islands Remember.’”