US Marine Corps Activates First New Base Since 1952; Camp Blaz, Guam

The U.S. Marine Corps on Thursday activated the Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz on the island of Guam, its first new base since 1952.

The new MCB Camp Blaz will become home to about 5,000 Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) who will begin moving to Guam from Okinawa, Japan over the next few years.

The Marine Corps plans to hold an activation ceremony for its newest base in Spring 2021.

This is the first new Marine Corps base that has been activated since March 1, 1952 when the commissioning of what is now Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Georgia took place.

The formal establishment of MCB Camp Blaz is a significant milestone of the Realignment of Forces. It honors the international agreement with the Government of Japan while securing a Marine Corps posture in the Indo-Pacific region that is also geographically distributed and operationally resilient.

Guam plays an important role in the Indo-Pacific region. It has recently been a stop for US Navy ships for safe haven liberty in the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic. Guam also hosted the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN – 71) at the height of the virus, housing sailors in hotels for quarantine periods.

MCB Camp Blaz will play an essential role in strengthening the Department of Defense’s ability to deter and defend. It is also a testament to the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance, which is a cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the region.

“As the Marine Corps presence on Guam grows, I am confident that we will live up to our motto of honor, courage, and commitment – we will honor the history of the island of Guam, we will have the courage to defend it, and we will remain committed to preserving its cultural and environmental resources,” said Col. Bradley M. Magrath, the first base commander of MCB Camp Blaz.

Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz is named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Vicente “Ben” Tomas Garrido Blaz. He was the first Chamorro Marine to attain the rank of general officer.
Blaz completed a 29-year Marine Corps career. The Chamorro are the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, politically divided between the United States territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Micronesia

Blaz went on to serve as Guam’s Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for four consecutive terms. His legacy reflects the strong relationship that the Marine Corps and the people of Guam have shared since the establishment of the Marine Barracks in 1899.

Blaz was born on Guam on February 14, 1928. He was only 13 years old when the island was attacked by Imperial Japanese forces on December 8, 1941 and he remained on the island of Guam throughout the Japanese occupation until Liberation in July 1944.

He won a scholarship in 1947 to study at the University of Notre Dame and was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps in 1951.

Blaz served honorable and faithfully during his 29 year career, completing a combat tour in and was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for valor, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2), and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

After serving in the Marine Corps, Blaz was elected to represent Guam

While representing Guam as a Delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1984 through 1992, Blaz was instrumental in reorganizing Guam’s judicial system.

He was also an advocate for improved educational benefits for veterans and an accomplished author with his notable memoir “Let Us Remember.”

Hiis book captures the hardships and determination of the Chamorro people during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

Blaz died January 8, 2014 having led a life of selfless public service to his nation the Chamarro people and to the island of Guam. He is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery.

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