U.S. Ambassador Participates in Peace Memorial Ceremony, Visits Schools in Chuuk
February 24, 2011
From February 15 to 20, U.S. Ambassador Peter A. Prahar and his wife Amy Kit-Ling Choi Prahar visited Chuuk State. Their visit coincided with the 67th anniversary of Operation Hailstone and Peace Memorial Ceremony on February 18. Accompanying Ambassador Prahar was Rear Admiral Paul Bushong, the U.S. Defense Representative for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Republic of Palau. Also in attendance were Lieutenant Governor Johnson Elimo, Weno Deputy Mayor Pintas Kenneth, and World War II Veterans in Chuuk.
Although Operation Hailstone removed the Japanese military threat from Chuuk Lagoon, Ambassador Prahar explained that “[this ceremony] is not a commemoration of a great victory won by U.S. forces in the Pacific. It is, instead, a peace commemoration [meant to prompt us to] reflect on the war and its aftermath.” With this reflection in mind, Ambassador Prahar noted that “coming out of the death and destruction of a terrible war was a commitment by the United States to help the people of Micronesia achieve a better life. In fulfillment of this commitment, the United States has been a development partner of the people of Micronesia – together, in partnership - for over 60 years – and still counting.”
Following the remarks, Ambassador Prahar joined Chuuk State Lieutenant Governor Johnson Elimo and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer Takae Kasahara in placing memorial wreaths in Chuuk Lagoon.
On February 17, 1944 the U.S. Navy launched Operation Hailstone on Japanese forces harbored in Chuuk Lagoon. Over two days, 45 Japanese ships and over 270 aircraft were destroyed and thousands of Japanese servicemen died. Americans and Micronesians also died in the fighting.
In addition to Friday’s memorial event, Ambassador Prahar met with education administrators and visited public and private schools and College of Micronesia-Chuuk Campus. On February 15 the Ambassador met with Chuuk State Director of Education Gardenia Aisek to discuss public school reform efforts. The following day Ambassador and Mrs. Prahar visited numerous public schools on islands in Chuuk Lagoon: Udot Elementary and Middle School, Fanapanges Elementary School, South Nomoneas Elementary School on Fefen, South Nomoneas High School on Tonoas, and Iras Elementary School on Weno.
On February 17, Ambassador and Mrs. Prahar participated in the Berea Christian School Field Day at Andersen Field in Weno. During his remarks, Ambassador Prahar asked the students to reflect on the crisis many of their grandparents faced during World War II. The Ambassador impressed upon the students the need for a good education now in order to be prepared for the challenges they will face in the future. Addressing the students, Ambassador Prahar asked them “to honor the memory of your grandparents by doing the very best you can to succeed in school so you can go on to become leaders of your families, leaders of your communities, and leaders of your country. Let me ask you to honor their memory by doing today what will make you successful tomorrow.”
That afternoon, Ambassador and Mrs. Prahar also held a roundtable discussion with College of Micronesia-FSM Chuuk Campus Director Joakim “Jojo” Peter and COM-FSM students to discuss education and economic reform in Chuuk State.
The following day, Ambassador and Mrs. Prahar continued their education outreach with a visit to Xavier High School faculty and students. After Ambassador Prahar encouraged students to "reach high and reach far" in their academic endeavors, he entertained questions ranging from the roles and responsibilities of an ambassador to how he met Mrs. Prahar.
To round out his five-day visit, Ambassador Prahar also toured the Chuuk State Hospital and met with the Chuuk State Division of Agriculture.