Guam

Photos mounted on placards in the park show how the beach appeared on the morning of the July invasion, when preinvasion bombardment had rendered the entire area a desolate landscape, spiked with the trunks of broken palm trees.

I next headed a little farther south toward the village of Piti, partway up Nimitz Hill. Just above the village, on a hillside overgrown with dense jungle foliage, lie the remains of three Japanese coastal defense guns. Although I knew to look for the guns there, finding them in the quiet jungle setting still felt like a discovery. The weapons—Japanese-made 140mm Vickers-type Model 3 guns, called “Piti guns” by the locals—were never fired. The Japanese had used Chamorro slave laborers to haul the guns, which weigh thousands of pounds each, up the steep hillside. But they weren’t yet operational by the time of the American invasion—something the sight of the open and rusted breeches made me glad of.

About two miles farther up Nimitz Hill is Asan Bay Overlook, one of the better-maintained and more contemporary memorials on the island. This serene, windblown site offers a commanding view of the assault beach. From here Japanese commanders launched a large but ultimately unsuccessful banzai attack early the morning of July 26 in a last-ditch effort to repel the Americans. While I was there, several busloads of Japanese tourists arrived and departed. I briefly wondered why they’d come until I realized they, like me, were paying respects to their slain soldiers.

One of the most moving memorials I came across was dedicated to another group of fallen warriors: the Doberman pinschers that served alongside marines in the liberation of Guam. Sixty dogs entered Guam with the 3rd Marine Division; headstones arranged in a semicircle mark the burial sites of the 25 dogs that died there. These animals were used to flush Japanese troops from their caves, pillboxes, and dugout positions, and served as sentries as well. Dogs accompanied marines into combat throughout the Pacific, and no marine unit with a dog was ever ambushed or its position infiltrated by the Japanese. The War Dog Memorial is located at the U.S. Naval Base; civilian visitors must be accompanied by a military sponsor.

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5 Responses

  1. tara Simpson

    I am so disappointed to find that you did not mention another treasure trove of historical artifacts from World War II. You would have driven straight by the Pacific War Museum on your way up Nimitz Hill. This is a privately owned war museum. The owner, a Marine and Vietnam veteran has dedicated his life to preserving the history of the Pacific War on Guam and educating others about the experience. Included in the amazing collection, 22 fully restored and operable military vehicles, WWII era, and a 500 year old samurai sword belonging to Gen. Obata (the final Japanese commander on Guam, who died on the final day of battle for the liberation of Guam, 10 August 1944).

    The man who owns and operates the Pacific War museum is the same who walked and pulled a cart from the gates of Andersen AFB to the Navy base (22 miles) in an attempt to bring public attention and support to have the name of US 1 changed from “Marine Drive” to “Marine Corps Drive.” Too many people were forgetting the meaning of the road’s name, thinking it referred to marine life, rather than honoring the Seabees who built the road shortly after the liberation of Guam. The publicized walk was worth it- the following day the governor of Guam signed the new name into law.

    There is an incredible amount of history packed into the tiny Pacific island.

    Reply
    • scott henderson

      War on GUAM is my favorate topic. I had served in the navy on the uss san jose afs-7 1984-1987. Ive studied alot about the ww2 exp. between the imperial japaneese army and the u.s. marines. Can you teach me more? I would enjoy to share some info. with tou please contact me. scott henderson.

      Reply
      • James Oelke

        Hafa adai Scott,

        As an Operations Specialist aboard the “Happy Jose” from 1987-1990, I must have taken up where you left off…

        I made a decision to stay on Guam and have now been here 25 years. It is an amazing island and the weather, people, and culture have made the decision a very rewarding one. Today I serve with the National Park Service’s War in the Pacific National Historical Park on Guam and the American Memorial Park on Saipan.

        Our museum opens July 20, 2012 to the public with new displays and interactives that I think will really enliven the discussion of the battles within the Pacific. It took a long time to put it all together – yet the result is very well done.

        Try out http://www.nps.gov/wapa

        Go to the history and culture page and look at the in-depth web page – tons of information and photos there – should keep you busy for a while!

        Esta,
        James

  2. MSgt Foster

    Did you visit the Air Force base and Northwest Field ? I was stationed on Guam for ten years during the Vietnam War with the biggest bombing missions since WWII. I handled and handsprayed Agent Orange herbicides on Guam for ten years which i personally hand sprayed a few million gallons of it on and off base Guam. take a look at the evidence http://www.guamagentorange.info/home and the cancer rate on Guam in the highest rate in the world. the tab personal stories has many government documents for proof of what I did there with eye witnesses.

    Reply
  3. guammanian

    guam is fascinating to live in since i live here it rains alot not that much sun when it is sunny it is super hot.

    Reply

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