KOROR, Palau — On Feb 5th, the USS Higgins and the United States Ambassador to Palau, the Honorable Helen Reed-Rowe, hosted a reception onboard for several Palauan officials.
Among the dignitaries was the Honorable Reklai Raphael B. Ngirmang, Paramount Chief-Melekeok. Cmdr. Andrew Carlson, the ship’s Commanding Officer, briefly discussed the significance of the USS Higgins visit, including a reference to the World War II battle of Peleliu, one of the islands of Palau. He said, “This ship is named for a Marine who gave his life for his country, and given so many Marines made the same sacrifice during those two months on Peleliu, it is fitting that Higgins makes a port call here in Palau.” Ambassador Reed-Rowe pointed out the Chief of Melekeok’s tie to the United States military—he served in the United States Marine Corps.
During a reception in the pilot house overlooking the Malakal Harbor, the former Marine, now Paramount Chief of a Palauan State, entertained Higgins officers and crew by recounting his time as an active duty Marine. “He told a story of being a drill instructor on the firing line conducting weapons training when he had to secure the range because the base announced that President Kennedy was assassinated,” said Lt. Colleen Moore, the ship’s Weapons Officer.
After the Higgins Commanding Officer presented the Vice President of Palau a plaque commemorating the visit, Paramount Chief Ngirmang asked to hold the plaque. He pointed out to the Palau Vice President that the Marine Corps motto was engraved on the nameplate. “Semper Fidelis,” said Chief Ngirmang, “is Latin for ‘Always Faithful.’ ” For Higgins sailors, a crew reminded daily of the sacrifice and fidelity of their ship’s namesake, it was an opportunity to witness the Marine Corps motto lived out by a faithful friend in Palau.