11 May 2018
- By Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa – [email protected] – Variety News Staff
THE U.S. Army Reserve Center on Saipan has been revitalized to provide soldiers a state-of the art training facility. The center was dedicated to Staff Sgt. Wilgene T. Lieto and Cpl. Derence W. Jack who were killed in the line of duty in Iraq in 2005.
After the facility was damaged by Typhoon Soudelor in Aug. 2015, the U.S. Army secured funding to renovate it.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Thursday morning to memorialize Lieto and Jack’s heroism and to re-open the Saipan troop store which now offers more merchandise.
Brig. Gen. Douglas Anderson, commanding general of the 9th MSC U.S. Army Reserve, said they named the facility after Lieto and Jack so that the CNMI will not forget the sacrifices made by the two soldiers in fighting for freedom.
Anderson said the newly renovated facility is more durable and can withstand a strong typhoon.
He added that soldiers deserve nothing but the best, and the new facility will also enhance their training programs.
He said the facility has an improved motor pool that can protect vehicles.
Cmdr. Adam Perrins of the Joint Region Marianas and commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas said it took them 20 months to renovate the facility at a cost to the U.S. Army of $8 million.
Sgt. Melanie Licerio, a graduate of Saipan Southern High School who has been with the Army since 2007, said the facility is a lot different now.
Before, it had no gym or a motor pool and the offices were small with no air-conditioning units, Licerio said.
Melissa Tomokane Jack, wife of Corporal Jack, said she and her daughter are proud of what her husband accomplished for his country.
She said she “hated” the Army at first, but eventually came to realize that joining it so he could serve his country was her husband’s dream.
She said it made her happy and proud to know that he fulfilled that dream.
“The feeling is surreal, but we have to move on in life. You think at that moment that you will not move on but you will eventually. Time doesn’t heal the pain. It just teaches you how to deal with it and live with it and carry on,” Mrs. Jack said.
“My daughter and I are happy with what the Army did to honor my husband. The Army will always take care of me and my daughter…. It makes us proud that he will be forever remembered even if we get too busy in life. The Army’s naming the building after him is an honor — we love it and we appreciate it a lot…. This is the place where he used to train and it may be different now, a new building, but the memories will always be here.”
Cpl. Derence Jack joined the Army in 2000 and went to the states to undergo training. When he came back to Saipan he married his wife. The last time she saw him was in 2004 just before he was deployed to Iraq.
Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/104363-newly-renovated-us-army-center-named-after-nmi-s-fallen-heroes