THE BATTLE FOR GUAM

THE BATTLE FOR GUAM

Guam is a territory of the United States of America.

It is the largest, and southernmost of the Mariana Islands.

Guam was first populated over 4,000 years ago. Ferdinand Magellan landed there on March 6th 1521. It was controlled by Spain until 1898, when it was surrendered during the Spanish – American War.

As the largest island in Micronesia and the only U.S. – held island in the region before World War Two, Guam was captured by the Japanese on December 8th just hours after the attack at Pearl harbor.

Guam is about 28 miles long and four to eight miles wide.

19,000 Japanese defended the island. They had an extra month to prepare the defenses, due to the prolonged time it took to secure Saipan. They created inland barriers that would be their trademark for the rest of the war, while at the same time preparing to take on the Americans on the beaches as the invasion began. This was the last time they would try to defend the beaches in any significant way for the rest of the war.

D -Day for Guam had been set for June 18th 1944. Since Saipan took longer to control than anticipated D – Day was moved to July 21 1944.

The island received air and naval bombardment, including a thirteen day continuous naval bombardment, the most prolonged of the war to date.

20,000 3rd division Marines landed on July 21st. Altogether over 30,000 Marines participated. 1,082 were killed, 125 missing, and 4,582 were wounded. More than 17,000 Japanese were killed.

The 1st Batallion 4th Marines,{Former Raiders}, repulsed a banzi attack by 5,000 “Japs” on July 22nd and, between the 25th and 27th of July the enemy took heavy losses, and the 38th infantry was destroyed.

The Fourth Marines were the first to reach both the north and south ends of the island during the campaign.

The 1st and 2nd War Dog Platoons as well as the Navajo Code talkers were integral in taking the island.

Guam had been in the hands of the Japanese for two years, seven month and ten days.

This was a great morale booster since it was the first American land taken back from the Japanese.

In spite of how difficult the fighting was, the American Flag was raised eight minutes after landing on July 21st. Guam was declared under control on August tenth 1944.

27 years later in 1972 sergeant Soichi Yokoi was found living in a cave. He finally surrendered when convinced the war was over.

Prior to this epic battle, the 1st Marine Raider Regiment was disbanded, with most Raiders being given the honor of reforming the historic 4th Marine Regiment that fallen in the early days of Corregidor in the Philipine Islands.

The story of “The Battle of Guam” was taken from the book, REAL BLOOD REAL GUTS By James Gleason. He gets all credit. I have edited for the sake of brevity.

I met him in Sandiego years ago, and he signed the book with a generous dedication to my father. I dwell on the 4th Marines, and the Raiders because that’s where my father was.

Doc Gleason, {as they called}, him was a humble and amazing man. He gave me a lot of his time, and didn’t care that I carried a note book, and wrote down so many thing he told me.

We spoke in the hospitality room, where he did his book signings, and had a couple meals together, and drank beer with other Raider who were ready to open up at this point in their lives.

My plan is to from time to time tell the story of these brave men and women, and yes… the Dogs.

Never forget the Dogs!

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THE LAST MAN STANDING

THE LAST MAN STANDING

This picture was taken on the island of Guam.

The men you see make up two machine gun squads. Every man in this picture was either killed or wounded before World Two ended, except for the small muscular man on the left. He was the squad leader. He was my father.

Each squad was made up of seven men. There are thirteen men in the picture. The fourteenth man was taking the picture. He was also the squad leader of six of these men. These two squads worked closely together on Guam. That is evident in their body posture.

The night before they set an ambush at an advantageous spot on Harmon Road. The Japanese that had not yet been killed, captured, or surrendered, were completely surrounded and out numbered. The Marines knew some of them would try to break through during the upcoming night. That’s what they would have done.

At one thirty a.m. the squads were in place on ridges over looking Harmon road. One squad on one side and one squad on the other side. Harmon Road made a big turn just below them and then began up hill. The Japanese faced a blind spot at the bend and the Marines waited until they were close enough, and the bazooka knocked the tank off it’s tracks.

The Americans didn’t really have a hand held weapon that would destroy a tank. That’s why they had to wait until they were perilously close to begin the attack.

Once the bazooka was fired, the two machine guns opened up. My father fired one, and the other squad leader fired the other. Since the bazooka didn’t kill everyone in the tanks, soldiers began to climb out and flee. The machines guns killed everyone of them and the dozen or two foot soldiers who accompanied them.

If you read my last post you can at least try, to begin to imagine and understand, how young men from all walks of life morphed from boys to Warrior Men. They saved our Country.

These guys ran, from water craft under fire, and took this Island from the Japanese. This was no small feat, since the Japanese were formidable adversaries and well prepared. It was one of the last times they would try to defend against the American forces and their Allies head on. After this they would move inland to defend their territory, and build tunnels and bunkers and even remodel tombs to force their enemy pay a terrible price for victory.

You thought the Vietnamese invented that, didn’t you.

I don’t know for sure, but I believe this picture was taken the day after they took total control of Guam.

This story is not fiction. My father never talked about it, but I interviewed survivors, and the story is mentioned in at least two books I have. I even met the bazooka man at a Marine Raider reunion in Nashville Tennessee.

I was looking at a table of Raider souvenirs, when this great big Sioux Indian from Kentucky pulled out a picture of a heavily damaged Tank that he shot on Guam. He was telling everyone, about how once he shot the tank, the Japs, [ that’s how they talked, and I’m not going to try to be politically correct. I’d rather be factual}, began to jump out of the tank and run for their lives and the machine guns began to mow them down.

I interrupted him at that point and confirmed that he did this on Harmon Road. I then told him that my father was one of the machine gunners doing the shooting. He remembered my father well, as did a lot of the men at those reunions. He filled in a lot of gaps for me, and since dad was gone by then, it was moving to talk to men who knew him and fought beside him.

I learned a lot that day.