A salute to Pacific service members

Rows of sailors and others at ceremony with flags (© Jonathan Ernst/AP Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center left) with Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo at the Memorial to Federated States of Micronesia Veterans of U.S. Armed Forces. (© Jonathan Ernst/AP Images)

During his historic trip to the Indo-Pacific, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo honored Micronesian citizens who served in the United States armed forces and died fighting for freedom.

“The American people are intensely and forever grateful for their sacrifices to defend and advance freedom and unalienable rights all across the world,” the secretary said August 5 before he laid a wreath at the Memorial to Federated States of Micronesia Veterans of U.S. Armed Forces.

President David Panuelo of the Federated States of Micronesia joined him at the memorial in Kolonia, Pohnpei.

Since gaining independence in 1986, Micronesia has enjoyed a special relationship with the U.S. under the Compact of Free Association. Under the Compact, the United States defends Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, another signatory, as if they were its own.

Micronesians can also serve in the U.S. armed forces. The Marshall Islands and Palau, a neighboring island nation, also have servicemen and women in the U.S. forces through their relations with the United States.

When the presidents of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau visited Washington in May, they paid their respects at Arlington National Cemetery, a military cemetery near Washington.

Earlier in his trip to the Indo-Pacific region, the secretary traveled to Thailand, where he met with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Lower Mekong Initiative, before heading to Sydney to meet with Australian officials.