|University of Maine at Presque Island Professor H.A. Giles, second left, poses with other members of the Valor Tours group at the 360 Revolving Restaurant last week. Photo by Alexie Villegas Zotomayor|
By Alexie Villegas Zotomayor
Associate Editor / Reporter
CROSSING the Pacific and revisiting the islands where their fathers risked their lives during World War II is becoming common for the children of World War II veterans as evidenced by the recent visit made by a Valor Tours group.
Univ. of Maine at Presque Isle Professor H. A. Giles III leads the Valor Tours group of 10 people that arrived on Saipan last March 14 from a commemoration ceremony held on Iwo Jima.
Giles’ father, H.A. Giles Jr. took part in the Battles of Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima in 1944-1945 as a member of the Fourth Marine Division.
His uncle, Arthur Nunn, he said, helped build North Field and the atomic bomb pits on Tinian as a member of the 6th Battalion SeaBees.
Giles said with the dwindling population of WWII veterans coming to the islands for a visit, there will be more WWII veterans’ children coming in their stead.
“I think that is the legacy that is going to live on with the younger generation,” he said.
Giles said his group composed of children of WWII veterans and history enthusiasts from Oklahoma, Pennsylavania, Alaska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida, California and Northern Maine will be staying on the islands until March 18.
Today, they head to Tinian where they will take part in a commemoration ceremony honoring the 6th Bomb Group.
The group was supposed to include airmen from the 6th Bomb Group; however, they had to cancel at the last minute.
Giles explained, “Their doctors advised them not to come for health reasons.”
He said three WWII veterans were scheduled to come on this trip.
Asked how significant the trip was for him as a son of a WWII veteran, Giles said, “I feel a sense of reverence in coming back to where my dad landed up where the PIC club is and remembering the young men that lost their lives here, what they fought for.”
For Giles, it is also a sense of patriotism and pride.
He added, “My dad was killed when I was four so I really never knew him. It’s a way for me to reconnect to him and his past and what he helped to accomplish.”
He said his father lived through WWII, having fought in the Battles of Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.
“He stayed in the Marines and got killed in Korea during the Korean War,” he said.
Coming to Saipan and Tinian was for him all about family and heritage.
He said it is recognizing what the greatest generation did.