CAT-Palau restores memorial deck in Pacific region

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Built next to a 150-foot cliff that overlooks two beaches upon which major amphibious attacks took place, the Bloody Nose Ridge Memorial on the island of Peleliu stands to remind visitors of those who gave their lives in service to their country.

However, the deck surrounding the memorial was beginning to fall apart, making it difficult for those who wanted to pay their respects -- until Civic Action Team-Palau stepped in to give the deck a facelift.

"The purpose behind the project was to rehabilitate a rundown U.S. war memorial, commemorating the men who died fighting a significant battle in the Pacific," said Capt. Jerrod McComb, CAT-Palau officer in charge. "The deck at that time was unfit to be called a U.S. war memorial and was unsafe for tourist visitation or anyone wanting to visit the memorial to pay their respects -- stairs were missing, planks were rotted out, tour companies had removed it from their routes."

CAT-Palau, comprised of 13 Airmen and 13 Palauan apprentices, completed the project over eight days, carrying the materials, both old and new, up and down 117 stairs. According to McComb, the old wood was then given to the locals to be repurposed.

The project also trained 13 Palauan locals as part of the apprentice program, teaching them in a trade of their choice. Once graduated, the apprentices received certificates from both the CAT and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

"Apprentice training is one of the four primary missions of the civic action team -- community construction, apprenticeship training, community relations, and medical support," McComb said. "The apprentices were trained on site safety, carpentry and good old fashioned hard work."

These were some of the ways the Bloody Ridge Memorial restoration project enhanced the partnership PACAF has with the Republic of Palau and surrounding region.

"Our participation in CAT-Palau, as part of the Joint Team, is an integral part of our partnership with the Republic of Palau, and our engagement in theater," said Col. Michael Addison, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces A4/7 deputy director for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support. "The Palauans are an important and long-time partner of the United States, and it is a great privilege to be part of the Joint Engineer Team serving Palau and its people. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership."

The battle of Bloody Nose Ridge was fought by service members from both the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army in September 1944 to keep the Japanese from advancing toward the Philippines, resulting in significant casualties on both sides -- 11,000 Japanese and 1,800 Americans killed with 8,800 wounded.

The inscription on the memorial says, "Lest we forget those who died." Because of the efforts of CAT-Palau, the public can once again safely remember those lost lives -- just in time for the 70th anniversary of the battle.