Discovery Day kicks-off sister village relationship
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members of the 644th Combat Communications Squadron showcased some of their capabilities and equipment during the Discovery Day festival in the village of Umatac, Guam, as part of the Sister Village Program March 2.
The Sister Village Program partners a squadron from Andersen Air Force Base with a local village to develop relationships between themselves and the local community. Discovery Day was the first event the 644th CBCS participated in since their recent partnering with Umatac.
"We were invited to come out here and showcase our capabilities, but more importantly we are here to interact with the local community," said Lt. Col. Melchizedek Martinez, 644th CBCS commander. "Anytime we get an opportunity to interact with the community, it's a great thing. It's a good opportunity to represent the Air Force, the military and learn about the culture."
Discovery Day is an annual event that has been held for the past 50 years in the village. It is a celebration of Guam's discovery in 1521 and each year various booths, games and displays are presented as well as the reenactment of Ferdinand Magellan's discovery of the island. Members of the village also had the opportunity to interact with military members.
"This year we are trying to promote the community engagement within our culture and our heritage, including the military as members and residents of the island and engaging them as part of that community," said Vera Topasna, Discovery Day planning council vice president. "We are trying to have that 'one place' feeling for Guam."
The 644th CBCS displayed a variety of equipment and were given the chance to interact and talk about their jobs with the local community.
"The locals have taken an interest in what we do and the equipment we use," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Quinata, 644th CBCS cyber security journeyman.
Quinata is a local to Guam, and his father is from the village of Umatac, so partnering with this village had a special meaning to him. He said his squadron has plans to work closely with Umatac and help with various projects, as well as build relationships.
"With the Sister Village Program, we are looking at assisting the mayor's staff with beautification projects or hosting other events such as Discovery Day to display what we have. We are here to help," Quinata said.
The village officials said they hope this Sister Village Program partnership will evolve into a strong bond and friendship.
"I'm so glad that we are getting the military with our village and beginning to work together as a group," said Johnny Quinata, Umatac mayor. "It's wonderful, the people love seeing more military come around, and I'd like to see even more of them come down so we can get them involved with the village."
The 644th CBCS members expressed the same ambitions as the mayor.
"The people here are just amazing," Martinez said. "Learning about each other is a key thing here. There is so much we can do for the community, and we look forward to working with them on a lot of community events."
The program is intended to reinforce core values and team-building skills while developing community connections and strengthening military and civilian relationships. Each squadron assigned to the 36th Wing is partnered with a village on Guam and has the opportunity to contribute to the community.