Naval Base Guam welcomes former residents, descendants back to sumay

Naval Base Guam welcomes former residents, descendants back to sumay

by JoAnna R.C. Delfin, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs
U.S. Navy

SANTA RITA, Guam – More than 100 family members and several surviving residents of the former Sumay village visited U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) to celebrate the fifth Back to Sumay Day April 5.

NBG leadership welcomed the families onto the base as a way to remember the history of the former village, which became a part of the installation after the U.S. liberated the island from Japanese occupation in 1944.

“All of you who have come back to this place to remember Sumay the way it was and recollect its rich history shows your devotion to your past and your heritage,” said NBG Executive Officer Cmdr. David Ellis. “I think that’s what makes Guam so special. It’s the willingness of generations to preserve their past and share it not only with family and friends but with those who come to live, work and visit the island.”

NBG and volunteers from several Navy commands partnered with the Santa Rita Mayor's Office to celebrate and remember the pre-World War II village and the Chamorros who once lived there.

“I am proud to be from Sumay,” said Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez. “I am even prouder that I can make this visit to Sumay possible with our military friends, who have honored and respected our ancestors by maintaining this little piece of Guam for us to enjoy and reconnect with our past.”

Highlights of the event included a mass held in front of the cross of the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe at the site of the former church, a fiesta-style lunch at the Clipper Landing Park, static historical displays and live dancing and singing by the Chamorro cultural group Inetnon Gef Pa’go.

Prior to World War II, Sumay played an important role in Guam’s economic growth, evolving from a fishing community to a hub for shipping, agriculture and communications.

“I used to play here and go fishing out there because it’s a nice place to go fishing, go boating and swim,” said Juan Perez Cepeda, a former resident who visited the village for the first time since before the war. “I could not be happier to share this with my family because they need to know where their family is from. They need to know this place. I will always remember the times I spent here.”

For more information, contact the Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs Office at (671) 349-4055/3209.

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