As the Valiant Shield 2016 military training exercises came to a close, businesses have opened their doors to the approximately 7,000 sailors and Marines who have been granted shore leave.
According to a press release from the U.S. Naval Base Guam public affairs office, elements of the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group arrived in Apra Harbor on Saturday for a goodwill port visit following the conclusion of Valiant Shield. The release stated that an additional six ships from the strike group pulled into port and unloaded approximately 7,000 sailors.
In the past, Valiant Shield shore leave has meant a short boom in revenue for local businesses as hotels, car rental agencies stores, restaurants and entertainment venues capitalize on the influx of military personnel.
Rebecca Devers, the general manager of Horse and Cow Pub & Grill, said she noticed a huge increase in business from airmen up to this point, but that they were anticipating large numbers of sailors coming in shortly.
According to Devers, Horse and Cow has been around for past Valiant Shield exercises so they fully anticipated the increase in business.
Sources at the Outrigger Guam Resort stated they had seen a number of military personnel come in to reserve rooms, and that they turned many away because they were already fully booked.
In light of the increased presence of military personnel on island, Capt. Kim Santos, spokeswoman for the Guam Police Department, told the Post that steps were being taken to ensure the safety of all.
“The Guam Police Department and the U.S. Navy have joined efforts to ensure the safety and security of our island community, our tourists and military visitors,” she said. “In addition to the regular GPD patrol and officers from specialized units that are protecting our streets, the U.S. Navy has established a command post within GPD and have Shore Patrol units in place to address incidents that involve military personnel.”
The release did not say when the ships were scheduled for departure, but noted that beyond the opportunity for relaxation and sightseeing, sailors were scheduled to take part in community relations projects and activities over the course of the week.
Yesterday, sailors and Marines volunteered at the Guam Animals in Need animal shelter in Yigo and partnered with Island Girl Power in park beautification projects.
Trey Starr, a volunteer at GAIN, said about six Marines and 11 Navy members came to the animal shelter and helped with the chores required for the upkeep of the facilities. Servicemen washed kennels, walked dogs and moved heavy supplies.
Other community service events include a number of school visits where sailors are scheduled to talk to students about their careers as well as beautification projects from river cleanups to tree trimming to general maintenance in villages around the island.