FALLEN GUAM SOLDIER RETURNS TO HAGATNA

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By Natalie J. Quinata

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 26) – The Meluat family name was honored as U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. JayGee Ngirmidol Meluat returned home to Guam yesterday after making what friends and community leaders called the "ultimate sacrifice."

Melanie Meluat, the fallen soldier's wife, was presented with the Purple Heart after the remains of her husband arrived.

JayGee Meluat's casket was escorted by members of the U.S. Marine Corps from the cargo terminal area to the Guam Commuter Terminal where a ceremony was held, at the request of the Marine Corps Guam Veterans Affairs Office.

Noid Meluat, a nephew of JayGee Meluat, said that although he is sad, "I'm proud of him, he took our name and represented it."

JayGee Meluat was killed by hostile action in the Al-Anbar province in Iraq on Sept. 13 at the age of 24. He was assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battallion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif.

Noid Meluat is here in support of his family, especially his uncle's wife and their 3-year-old daughter, MiaCai.

"Its just so sad, he died on the day of (MiaCai's) birthday." Noid Meluat said.

"I share the grief and pain of the family and as the government, we are here to honor the ultimate sacrifice," said Gov. Felix Camacho of JayGee Meluat's passing.

The ceremony is not mandatory, but the government goes the extra mile for the island's fallen soldiers, Camacho said.

Prominent members of the Palauan community also attended the ceremony in honor of their fallen countryman.

"We are very honored that he served his country and is now being honored," said Ted Iyechad, a professor of youth development at the University of Guam.

Iyechad said that the support shows a unique quality of island life, and how well the community is able to come together.

Vic April, the Palau consul general, said, "It's really nice to see everybody come out," he said of the support that the family and the Palauan community has received from the governor's office and the local community.

"Of course I feel bad to lose a countryman," April said. "But he died honorably, and I'm proud of that."

Melanie Meluat's sister, Patricia Abuan Mendiola, said that although it's been rough on the family, the widow is handling things a lot better than the family thought she would.

"She's a lot stronger than I thought she was," Mendiola said, "But she's always been the type to have a lot of spirit."

Mendiola said that because JayGee Meluat was determined to join the military, her family wasn't able to get to know him as well as they would have liked. But she said he always took care of his family, which is all that mattered to them.

Melanie Meluat tearfully accepted the Purple Heart award for her husband's death by the Veteran's Affairs Office.

But the widow's emotions could not be contained as U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Denton Dunlap gave her a final letter from her husband along with three of his dog tags.

Marine Corps Sgt. Justin Gibson, who has been on Guam for a year said, "It's a tragedy to lose a fellow Marine, or any member of the military."

Gibson, who did not know Meluat, said it is an honor to serve as a pall bearer.

"I'd do it for (any fallen soldier)," Gibson said.

September 27, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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