Herman Manglona Atalig was born on Saipan, the northernmost island of the now United States Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, just four years after the battle of Saipan. His parents took his family and immigrated to Guam when he was 10 years old in order to provide better education and more opportunities for their children. Atalig attended two years at the University of Guam, but he returned home to help support his family after his father had a massive stroke. Leaving school left Atalig eligible for the draft. In 1968, the Army drafted him.
In Vietnam, Atalig served at Dong Tam Fire Base in the Mekong Delta with the 9th Infantry Division. Atalig requested to be point-man, always in the front of his unit. He said he felt he had a sixth sense for trouble and wanted to help his unit. Atalig received an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for Valor after multiple engagements with the enemy and detecting multiple booby traps without any injuries to his unit.
After returning home, Atalig found it difficult to re-acclimate. Instead of getting out of the military, he signed back on and served 27 more years. During that time, Atalig held several positions. He served as instructor for the Republic of Korea Marine Ranger School, Recondo School instructor, senior drill sergeant, Rutgers University ROTC instructor, Inspector General sergeant major, operations sergeant major for Forces Command, and senior Army enlisted advisor for the Reserve component on Guam. During his service, Atalig received a Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, an Army Commendation Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, as well as several others.
Upon retiring, Atalig returned to the United States Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. Once back, Atalig worked at Rota High School for 16 years and at Dr. Rita H. Inos Senior High School as the Junior ROTC senior Army advisor. In 2011, he received the CNMI PSS Instructor of the Year, for his work with the Junior ROTC.
Thank you for your service!
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Jessica Davis
Fact checker: Crystal Moore
Graphic artist: Alyssa Morford