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Home : News
NEWS | March 12, 2021

Guam National Guard completes one year of COVID-19 response

By Guam National Guard

BARRIGADA, Guam – On July 21, 1944, U.S. military forces stormed the beaches of Guam and reclaimed the island after a brutal three-year Japanese occupation. The day would go on to be celebrated as Guam's Liberation Day.

Almost 80 years later, the Soldiers and Airmen of the Guam National Guard walk in the footsteps of their military forebears. Activated on March 14, 2020, the Guam Guard's Joint Task Force 671 has served in support of local authorities manning quarantine facilities, emplacing emergency field hospitals, working in emergency rooms and on COVID-19 wards, administering tests, distributing food commodities, and much more. Most recently, the Guard's vaccine clinic has become the island's main vaccination effort, under the umbrella of the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services.

The mission of the clinic, named Operation Liberate Guam, is to help the island reach herd immunity via vaccination no later than July 21, 2021 - Guam's Liberation Day.

"There are some parallels to an occupation, with the tragic loss of life, the chokehold on our economy, and the loss of our freedoms we've come to enjoy," said Maj. Gen. (GU) Esther Aguigui, adjutant general of the Guam Guard. "We aim to honor and respect the sacrifices of our people and our military liberators in 1944 by fighting the defining battle of our time and restoring our freedoms taken by COVID-19."

Operation Liberate Guam is comprised of about 20 combat medics and a platoon of support staff, with community volunteers and partners from the University of Guam, AmeriCorps, and DPHSS and others. Together, they can vaccinate over 1,500 residents per day.

The clinic opened Jan. 26 and is already responsible for vaccinating a large percentage of Guam's population of 165,000. On March 11, Guam ranked No. 4 among all states and territories in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I couldn't possibly be prouder of how our organization and our community partners have come together in this time of need," said Aguigui, who also praised the governor and lieutenant governor.

"But mostly, to the Soldiers and Airmen on the ground who continue to answer the call every single day, and to the families who support them – this chapter will go down in history as yours. You are the liberators of Guam in our time, and just like our heroes of 80 years ago, you will never be forgotten."