My fourth day in the Northern Mariana Islands was spent on Saipan. As a military history buff, Saipan has been a dream of mine to visit for many years. The battle for Saipan remains one of the most important and brutal battles in U.S. history. The island itself is a jewel of crystal blue waters and lush jungle. Like Guam, the Saipanese are incredibly generous and warm with visitors. While I was distressed to see a massive, gaudy casino being built for Chinese tourist (a monstrosity that dominates part of the island), the rest of the island remains wonderfully understated and tranquil.
I arrived on an early flight from Guam (which is only 40 minutes away). I then went on a wonderful hike through the jungle with Chief Judge Ramona Villagomez Manglona, Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy and Jim Benedetto, Assistant U.S. Attorney. Behind Jim’s house in Saipan is jungle that he routinely explored with machete in hand. Years ago he discovered the remains of a B-29 that crashed after a return from a bombing raid on Japan in World War II. It took three weeks for Jim and his friend to cut a path into the jungle but he took us to see the wreckage in the dense jungle. It was an amazing hike and Jim could easily find a calling in the outback should he abandon the whole legal gig.
After the hike, I was then taken on a great tour of the battlefields by Bill Bezzant, Chief Deputy Clerk. Bill is an amazing resource. My favorite part was when we went to the beach landing area where tanks are still visible in the surf. I could not resist and swam out to one Sherman tank and climbed on board. You can go inside of the tank through its open turret. It was amazing.
I finished the day with a wonderful dinner with judges and lawyers of Saipan. Again, the degree of hospitality and warmth on the island is incredible. Saipan has proved to be everything that I hoped it would be and more.