Inarajan, GU, US
1SG, HQ ISAF KABUL
08/18/2009, KABUL, Afghanistan
First Sergeant Jose San Nicolas Crisostomo was born August 29, 1949 in Inarajan, Guam. It was Liberation Day in Germany in 1985 when two Chamorro men shook hands for the first time. Julian Leon Guerrero Mendiola briefly met 1SG Jose San Nicolas Crisostomo.
“He was one hell of a guy,” Julian Mendiola explained as he was preparing a rosary for his fallen friend. “He was very family-oriented. And he went above and beyond himself to help other people.”
1st SGT Jose Crisostomo, also called Joe, was killed by a roadside blast in Afghanistan. He has the distinction of being the oldest of the 33 sons and daughters of Micronesia to die in the Global War on Terror since 2003. Joe was 59. Julian Mendiola talked about meeting 1SGT Crisostomo again years after they left Germany. The two men had relocated to Washington state, having decided to create lives far away from their beloved island, people and culture.
In 1999, the two men helped found Grupun Minagof, a community group of Chamorro families in the Pacific Northwest who maintain ties with their cherished loved ones in Guam. The organization was started to keep Chamorros who had left Guam cured of homesickness and away from poverty.
“We describe it as a ‘group of happiness,’ or our happy group.,” John Mendiola added.
First SGT Crisostomo was aggressive and effective for the causes of Grupun Minagof. If Chamorros needed help, he always got it to them.
“Joe was an absolutely outstanding leader,” his friend John Lizama explained. “He has the biggest heart of gold. He’s been extremely charitable to the organizations in Washington state.”
According to John Lizama 1SG Crisostomo was so patriotic, vibrant, motivated and physically fit, few of his friends were surprised when he decided he would, or could re-enlist. “His enthusiasm is such that it is so contagious he can really motivate people. As old as he was, he is such a motivated and well-liked person that his charisma is actually spectacular.”
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and acting Gov. Mike Cruz expressed their sympathies. “We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to his family and loved ones. 1st Sergeant Crisostomo was a hero and his sacrifices made in the name of our freedom will not be forgotten by the people of Guam.”
1SG Crisostomo is a son of Inarajan. He left the island after joining the Army and spent decades of service away from his home according to his wife, Patricia Duenas Leon Guerrero Crisostomo, said last week. A warm and personal guest book entry from Legacy.com on August 26, 2009 talks about 1SGT Crisostomo:
Uncle Joe, Trying to hold back the tears to write this to you, Memories are flashing threw my mind day and night since we found out. The last time we saw you, you were laughing and trying get my daughters to do push ups, and I remember my son looking at you in astonishment cause he got to see a real life Soldier who looked just like his Grandpa…and now he knows Uncle “Ling” as a Hero…You will never be forgotten you will always be missed and forever will you be loved and held close to our hearts. Thank you for not only being our “Uncle” Thank you for keeping us safe! We love you Uncle Ling! Genia Crisostomo-Driver, Edgewood, Maryland