Guam – Guam Veterans celebrated a long anticipated event today, the groundbreaking of an expansion at the Veterans Cemetery in Piti.
“Today means a lot to us Veterans,” Victor Pangelianan Tabios, a purple heart recipient from the Vietnam War, told PNC ahead of the ceremony. The shortage of available plots at the cemetery limited his options when he began looking for a burial plot for himself. “The only crypt that they have right now is up that hill and my wife, I can not see my wife come and visit me Veterans Day, Memorial Day to walk up that hill.”
Soon Tabios and other Veterans will have more options. The $3.4 Million expansion project will add 1,000 grave sites and a thousand columbarium spaces.
“Right now we’re projected to fill up in two years,” Guam Veteran Affairs Administrator John Unpingco said of the need for the expansion. “We’re starting to see some of that happening and we’re we’re going along at a predictable pace so its coming at the right time.”
The project is expected to expand the active use of the cemetery by ten to twenty years but Unpingco says further expansions are also being planed.
“A year from now we’re going to be going after another grant for $2 Million to get it up to stretch it to where it really would accommodate 20 years worth of burials,” Unpingco explained. “So this is part of the overall expansion that we’re seeing for the cemetery.”
Governor Eddie Calvo said hallows eve was an appropriate day for the ground breaking with All-Saints Day and All Souls Day being observed over the next couple of days and Veterans Day fast approaching
“We’re here in sacred hallowed ground for those that are interred here they epitomize what public service is,” Calvo said in his remarks. “I’m an elected public servant as a Senator and as a Governor but as an elected public servant I have never landed through an artillery vehicle in a beach being fired at, or been put in a battle field far away from home risking my life. Risking my life for people that you don’t even know, and also for the 300 Million people that you represent in the United States. That is what I call true public service.”
The contractor for the Piti Cemetery project is Asanuma, the same company that did the renovation of the Pigo Cemetery. Operations and maintenance for the project will be handled by the veteran owned business, Pearl Construction Company.
The expansion is expected to be completed in 270 days, weather permitting.