Return of the Liberator: the short, happy tale of 90-year-old veteran Lloyd Glick's long-awaited, much anticipated return, hero's welcome, and whirlwind tour of Guam...as orchestrated by Walt F.J. Goodridge
You could not have imagined, wished for, nor created a more perfect day for a returning war hero! I flew from Saipan to Guam on the 4:15am flight (which I almost missed, but that's another story for another day!) to meet Lloyd's cruise ship, the Crystal Serenity arrive on Guam.
By about 7:30am on Guam, after a typical, tropical "morning blessing" sun shower, the sky opened up and revealed a crisp blue sky and dry weather for the ship's arrival!
Rainy morning on Guam; not to worry, the forecast predicted great weather!
The Crystal Serenity backs in to Guam dock F4 at 8am on schedule!...
Once through customs onboard the ship, the passengers are treated to a stunning reception that includes media, government officials, dancers, performers and beauty queens...
Lloyd Glick and other beauties! (l.to r: Lirene Veksler, Aliyes Scott, Katarina Martinez)
Dancers on the dock!
Lloyd Glick on Guam
We head out towards the War in the Pacific National Historical Park and start to see Guam,
Judy and Lloyd at the War in the Pacific National Historic Park Asan Beach park "unit"
Once we get to the Visitors Center, after a few introductions and a bit of milling about, we start a mini presentation for the visitors in attendance. Park Ranger Ben Hayes welcomes Lloyd to the center and bestows a medallion.
Judy, Lloyd receiving a Veteran's Commemorative medal from the Park Service's Ben Hayes and James Oelke (not shown, sorry James!)
I then shared the story of how Lloyd and I met online, and how we cultivated a unique relationship for two months while he was still in California, and I on Saipan!
I then turned it over to Guam's Senator Benjamin Cruz who bestowed Lloyd with a Guam Legislature Resolution honoring and recognizing his contribution to the liberation of Guam. (The senator's gracious appearance was a total surprise!)
Lloyd, The Resolution, Senator Cruz
Afterwards, I shared the surprise I've been anxious to reveal for quite a while. Lloyd had only a faint idea that something was brewing behind all the detailed questions I'd been asking him during our email conversations. I revealed, finally today, the reason for it all: I'd secretly compiled, prepared and created an "as told to" autobiography of Lloyd Glick the bugle boy scout, the enlistee, the Musician Second Class, the battleship sailor and now returning war vet, entitled Bugle Boy to Battleship: A Battle of Saipan Veteran's Memoirs...as told to Walt Goodridge!
He's already approved it and given a preliminary "green light," so...read more, see the alternate covers I had considered, and even order a copy here
Lloyd and his autobiography..hope he likes it!
Next, we head out onto the island with Ranger Ben Hayes, who gives a spectacular, detailed, and at times quite moving tour of sites at several of the National Park's "units."
Ben gives history lessons and lessons how to really give a tour, replete with diagrams, maps, photos and quotes from veterans, eyewitnesses, historians and authors
Joining us for the day was also Cameron Miculka, whose father was the first ranger on Guam, and who got an exclusive all-day interview with Lloyd!
Blue skies over Miculka
Bugle boy and Ben at the Bunker
Since Ben has the keys to it, we got a rare, exclusive treat and got to visit inside the communications bunker at Fonte Plateau. Very few folks get to go inside!
Inside the communications bunker
Next, we stopped at Simply Food (my favorite health food store and restaurant on Guam, operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church) to grab something to eat, and were treated to lunch on the house by the director and manager of the restaurant.
Manager, Sharon Schmidt, greets the Glicks
The tour continues with Ben showing more of Guam past and present...
While at the Visitor Center, local author, great spirit, and marketing maven, Dianne Strong (author of Witness to War), who had been there promoting her book, made a quick call to local (Pacific News Center) television station anchor, Kevin Kerrigan, who then contacted me to arrange a special interview with Lloyd.
Lloyd meets Kevin Kerrigan
Walt, Lloyd and Kevin doing the interview to be aired Monday night on Guam (stay tuned for links and downloads)
After a full day with many more shows of appreciation and respect, we make our way back to the visitor center by 4:40 (after closing time) to drop Ben back and take our leave! We couldn't have gotten a better tour guide. We say our goodbyes and take a final photo....
The gracious wife, the Jamaican, and the star of the show!
But, wait! There's more! As the couple make their way back to the ship at 5:15pm, there's yet another set of surprises in store...
Port police officer, Frances, confers a special pin as a show of fellow police officer comradery to Lloyd
Then, Pilar Laguana, of the Guam Visitors Bureau, bestows upon them a few more gifts plus a spectacular Chamorro culture book...
Felix Reyes, me, Frances, Lloyd and Judy...almost final farewell!
Finally, as rush hour traffic starts to put the squeeze on Marine Corps Drive traffic, I meet Jasmine Stole, the reporter behind this great Variety story on Lloyd, and pick up a few copies of the paper for Lloyd, head to the airport...
and return to Saipan on the 8:30pm flight to await Lloyd's arrival on Saipan....so we can do it all over again!
See you on Saipan!
p.s. Thanks to all who made the day an unforgettable experience. Lloyd shared with me that the respect, recognition and warm reception he received on the island of Guam was totally unexpected, and overwhelming--in a quite moving way!
Every customer is unique. Some have unusual requests for their visits to Saipan, Tinian, Pagan and Guam--everything from simply fiding unique accommodations and transportation to locating specific individuals for genealogical research, or historical/cultural artifacts for study, to visiting "off limits" areas, and doing unique activities!
Whatever your unique request, my mission is to "make it happen" for you. In the process, I do everything I can --leveraging professional as well as personal contacts, calling in favors, harnessing my experience in unrelated industries and backgrounds--to make your request come true.
As a result, you may end up enjoying a tour experience that doesn't currently exist, and that likely will not be offered to anyone else in the future in quite the same way!
That's my Discover Destinations advantage, and that's what you pay for!