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US Congress Honors USMC Sgt. John Gerber


Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and service of John Vincent Pangelinan Gerber, a lifetime resident of the village of Ordot, Guam. John Gerber passed away on May 4, 2010 at the age of 58. Born on May 31, 1951, in Guam, John is the eldest son of Martin and Dolores Gerber. He attended Barrigada Junior High School, Father Duenas Memorial School, and after graduating from George Washington High School, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on June 4, 1969. After completing basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, John was deployed to Vietnam where he served with the Fleet Logistics Command in support of the 1st and 3rd Marine Divisions. Following his tour of duty in Vietnam, John was assigned to Bravo Company at Marine Barracks Guam. John Gerber was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps on June 3, 1975.

John Gerber began his civilian career as a young radio disc jockey on the Wireless Rock Show and later established a record store in Guam’s capital of Hagatna called the Wireless Rock Music Box. John also started a charter boat tour company that took visitors around Guam’s southern shores. In 1992, John joined the Guam Chapter of the 3rd Marine Division Association, and as a member of this service organization, he devoted his time to helping his fellow Marines, service members, and veterans. John invited individuals or groups associated with the 3rd Marine Division visiting Guam to one of the famous Gerber fiestas at his home in Ordot, and while there, Marine Corps veterans groups and service members would be treated to an evening of Chamorro hospitality. Throughout his lifetime, John and the 3rd Marine Division Association hosted over 16,000 service members on Guam.

In 2004, John Gerber led a petition to rename Route 1 on Guam from Marine Drive to Marine Corps Drive. John argued that the intent of the original authorization for the highway was to recognize the U.S. service members who liberated Guam. That same year, John walked from Andersen Air Force Base to Naval Base Guam, 27 miles in total, while pulling a cart the entire length. His campaign was successful, and Route l in Guam is now officially named Marine Corps Drive. Every year, John also loaned his restored World War II-era vehicles as part of Guam’s Liberation Day Parade. On July 21, 2008, the 64th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam, John opened the Pacific War Museum on Guam.

This non-profit museum was built by John to showcase his World War II-era memorabilia and to educate the public on the War in the Pacific. I join our community in mourning the loss of John Gerber, and I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Mela Gomez Gerber; his siblings, Martin, Joyce, Wanda, Debra and Janet; his children, Ryan, Christiana, Storm and Rio; and to his many family, friends and fellow Marines. He will be missed.

Madam Speaker, I also request that this is added to the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD.

The first is a tribute to John Gerber from Brigadier General Ben Blaz, the former Member of Congress from Guam. General Blaz was a good friend of John Gerber, and he composed this tribute in his memory. MY FRIEND His name was John. He was exceedingly proud of his Chamorro heritage. He was the personification of a United States Marine. He was unabashedly loyal to America. We hailed from the same village, metro Ordot, as he would say on occasion. His effervescent presence was always felt; sometimes quietly, other times not. His devotion to his friends was profound; his tolerance for those with whom he disagreed was noteworthy, at times! It is said that in life, there is a time to grow and a time to glow. John did both in tandem. He was endowed with a natural ability to rally and to lead those with him to reach their goal.

Many of his accomplishments were in keeping with a vow he made to a dying friend that he would strive to do well the rest of his life. His intense commitment to fulfill that vow resulted, among others, in the establishment of a remarkable museum to remind all of us how dearly the liberators and the liberated paid for the freedom we enjoy today. In acknowledgement of his many accomplishments, I invited John and his wife to join me as Guest of Honor on the reviewing stand for the performance of the Marine Corps Battle Colors Detachment at Asan Park in March. He would not accept the invitation. I asked him a second time and he declined once more because he would prefer to be with his comrades—veterans of all the Services. I approached him a third time and threatened not to attend the ceremony unless he and his wife joined me. Reluctantly, he accepted for which I was so grateful for no other guest present that day was more deserving than he to be honored. My friend’s full name was John Vincent Pangelinan Gerber. He was shorter than I, but I looked up to him for he was an extraordinary man from whom I learned to be a better person.

John did not seek fame; it sought him! Semper Fidelis, Marine! tjames on DSKG8SOYB1PROD with REMARKS The second item is the eulogy offered by Colonel Robert Loynd of the U.S. Marine Corps at John Gerber’s memorial service. Colonel Loynd is with Marine Forces Pacific and was asked to deliver the eulogy at the request of John Gerber’s family.

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