Indonesian delegation brings World War II soil to Florida National Guard
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (June 19, 2012) — Nearly 70 years after citizen-Soldiers assaulted hostile Japanese forces on the Pacific Island of Morotai, a delegation from Indonesia presented a remembrance of that World War II battle to the Florida National Guard.
On June 19, visitors from Indonesia met with Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. and Assistant Adjutant General for Air Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus to formally present a packet of soil collected on Morotai Island.
Morotai, a rugged island about 200 miles southeast of the Philippines, was selected by Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1944 as an air and naval base for continuing offensives against Japanese forces. On Sept. 15, 1944, members of 31st “Dixie” Division from Florida participated in an assault landing against Japanese forces on the island. This event is depicted today in a Florida National Guard Heritage Art Collection painting entitled “Assault at Red Beach: Morotai Island.”
The soil was presented in front of the painting at the Florida National Guard headquarters.
The delegation included the Executive Secretary of the Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare, the Governor of North Maluku Province where Morotai is located, and the Indonesian Military Attaché from Washington, D.C.
“We are very proud and honored to honor Gen. MacArthur and all the Allied forces who took part in this historic event in 1944,” said Gov. Thaib Armaiyn. “…This soil is memorabilia of what happened in 1944 as part of the long-term cooperation and relations between the people of North Maluku province and the United States.”
Titshaw accepted the soil and presented the governor with a print of the “Assault at Red Beach: Morotai Island” painting.
“On behalf of the Soldiers and Airmen of the Florida National Guard we accept the soil with gratitude for our shared history,” Titshaw said.
The soil will be used in a ceremony next year when the Post of St. Augustine Parade Field is rededicated to the memory of the men and women of the Florida National Guard who have served their State and Nation in war around the world.