SANTA RITA, Guam -- The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Cmdr. Carlton S. Skinner Building located at U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam on Thursday.
U.S. Coast Guard Fourteenth District Commander, Rear Adm. Michael Day, presided over the ceremony. The Lt. Gov. of Guam Joshua Tenorio and U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam Commander Capt. Nicholas Simmons joined him.
Day's remarks highlighted the Service's effort to be a more adaptive and connected Coast Guard that generates sustained readiness, resilience, and capability to enhance our Nation's maritime safety, security, and prosperity. That security mindset is ever present in the Pacific. Day also reflected on recently attended World War II memorials in Guam.
"We attended the Inalahan Memorial earlier this week, and something Mr. Willy Flores said resonated with me. We who are alive today, we walk in some giant footsteps. And I can't help thinking about Carlton Skinner and what made him so remarkable was his ability to recognize talents and inclusivity."
The facility is home to the U.S. Coast Guard Maintenance Augmentation Team and Weapons Augmentation Team (MAT/WAT) Guam. MAT/WAT Guam, a detached duty sub-unit of Base Honolulu, under the Director of Operational Logistics, comprises 23 personnel from various rates who conduct depot-level maintenance aboard the three Guam-based 154-foot Sentinel Class Fast Response Cutters.
"This building is the recognition by the Coast Guard that shore infrastructure is a crucial component of the operations that we perform every day," said Simmons. "Every ship, every small boat, every aircraft leaves a shore facility and returns to a shore facility."
The MAT/WAT team supports the operationally driven maintenance system. They also conduct corrective maintenance, trailering operations, troubleshooting assistance, and underway personnel support, allowing cutter crews to attend training courses or take earned leave. The unique capabilities of this unit in the remote location of Guam also enable the MAT/WAT to support additional Coast Guard and Navy units, including USCGC Sequoia (WLB 205), Station Apra Harbor, Sector Guam and Coastal Riverine Group One, Detachment Guam.
The legacy and commitment of Cmdr. Carlton Skinner inspires the plank owners of MAT/WAT Guam. Skinner served in the U.S. Coast Guard in World War II and was the first civilian governor of Guam. He was a trailblazer who leveraged the innate abilities of his crew to achieve mission excellence. He was a champion of civil rights, remembered for leading the first racially integrated U.S. military ship crew aboard USS Sea Cloud (WPG 284).
"Carlton Skinner had a radical hypothesis that an integrated crew could run a Coast Guard cutter. That sounds crazy today, but he had to ask permission from the commandant. That experiment went swimmingly well, and they were the first of the naval services to be integrated. Skinner epitomized our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty," said Day.
The MAT/WAT's seal pays homage to the three enlisted heroes, the namesakes of the Guam-based FRCs. The most prominent element is the cog, which symbolizes Oliver Henry's rate as a Machinist Mate. At a time when African Americans were limited in their service, Carlton Skinner saw Oliver Henry's potential to serve as a Machinist Mate and applied for his service as such. Upon denial, he appealed the decision and successfully had Oliver Henry instated as a Machinist Mate, the majority rate within this new unit, now known as Machinery Technicians.
"The Organic Act of Guam provided citizenship to the people of Guam and self-government. Governor Skinner was one of the key change agents who drafted the Organic Act and shepherded Guam from a naval administration into a civilian administration. Skinner is a popular figure on Guam," said Tenorio.
Tenorio also acknowledged the efforts of the Service as a significant partner to conduct our statutory missions and promote regional security and prosperity.
The MAT/WAT's chosen motto is a tribute to the history of the Coast Guard and Marines on Guam, "We intend to stay." Upon successful landing for the liberation of Guam, Marines held up a sign stating, "Marines salute Coast Guard for their part in the invasion of Guam; they put us here, and we intend to stay." Now, with our improved assets and infrastructure, the Service and MAT/WAT Guam re-affirm their commitment to this island, its people, and all of the United States. We intend to stay.