Coast Guard unveils World War II Memorial at Air Station Borinquen Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

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AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico — Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen unveiled a War World II Memorial Friday as part of Memorial Day weekend celebrations, during a ceremony at the base housing park grounds to honor the service members responsible for the island’s coastal defense.

The three stone plaques which make up the memorial rest on the cliff of the former Borinquen Field (Ramey Air Force Base), now owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. The memorial surrounds the remnants of one of the 155mm rifled artillery batteries that were established around 1940 to protect the island and Mona Passage from possible Nazi German Naval Surface Ship incursions.

Left to right: Cmdr. Flip Capistrano, Air Station Borinquen executive officer; Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel Allen, aviation maintenance technician, and Capt. Patricia McFetridge, Air Station Borinquen commanding officer, stand on top of an artillery mount following the revealing of a War World II memorial. The memorial was dedicated in honor of the military service members who manned the 155 mm rifled artillery batteries established to protect the island and Mona Passage from possible Nazi German Naval surface ship incursions, during a ceremony at the installation's park grounds May 23, 2014, in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Arturo Guerrero, avionics electrical technician)

Cmdr. Flip Capistrano, Air Station Borinquen executive officer; Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel Allen, aviation maintenance technician, and Capt. Patricia McFetridge, Air Station Borinquen commanding officer, stand on top of an artillery mount following the revealing of a War World II memorial on May 23, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Arturo Guerrero

“This Memorial Day Weekend I couldn’t be prouder of all the work members of Air Station Borinquen have put into constructing this memorial,” said Capt. Patricia A. McFetridge. “Honoring our veterans starts with understanding their sacrifices and these plaques highlight a little of what military life was like here during World War II.”

The artillery guns have long been removed but still present are the fixed-round-concrete emplacements known as “Panama Mounts,” which the guns swiveled on when fired.

“I thought there should be some information about what these concrete structures were used for,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Samuel H. Allen, Air Station Borinquen aviation maintenance technician, who was instrumental in designing the memorial. The plaques now posted at the memorial site explain what the mounts were for, how they operated, and what life was like for the men who manned the guns. “I think it is a very nice way to honor those who were stationed here during World War II. It took a lot of people to make this project happen and everyone involved should be proud of the results,” said Allen.

Also in attendance, was the Mayor of Aguadilla, Hon. Carlos Mendez-Martinez; the Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Capt. Patricia A. McFetridge; U.S. Army Garrison Commander of Fort Buchanan, Col. Caryn Heard; and guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Felix Santoni (U.S. Army ret).

Captain McFetridge further expressed her appreciation to Petty Officer Allen for his vision, initiative and research with the Ramey Air Force Base Historical Association to make this legacy project a reality. She also thanked the Borinquen Youth Group for helping to raise the necessary funds, and Air Station Borinquen’s Facilities Engineering Department for their planning and beautiful craftsmanship in building the cement forms, all vital parts in bringing the World War II memorial to life.

More pictures of the ceremony may be seen by clicking the photo.

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