Guam – Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo, Senator Judi Guthertz, UOG President Robert Underwood and other island leaders gathered Saturday morning at the legislative hearing room for a symposium to remember and reflect on the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees through Guam 35 years ago.
Bordallo at the time was the first Lady of Guam. She is show above standing by her husband, then Governor Ricky Bordallo, as they welcome the arrival of a boat load of Vietnamese refugees.
The symposium was entitled “Operation New Life: Untold Stories (35 years later).”
The event was held to remind the island community that as the Vietnam War came to a close in 1975, Guam served as the way station for the evacuation of 130,000 refugees from Vietnam to the mainland U.S.
Few of the Vietnamese refugees remained on Guam, but some did, and some of them turned out for the remembrance Saturday.
UOG President Robert Underwood said the event is “primarily a story about individual human struggle…and for us its about how we responded to it.”
The success of the refugee evacuation through Guam was due to cooperation between the U.S. military, the local business community and island residents many of whom volunteered at the refugee camps providing food, clothing and medical treatment.
Placing it in its historical context, Underwood spoke about how the event was yet another consequence of Guam’s unique geographic location and strategic position in the Pacific. he also pointed out the the Vietnamese evacuation “precipitated the next large wave of immigrants into the United States which a couple if generations since have now taken for granted.”