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Making Peace | Guam's Military Museum | The American G.I.

sumaybombardment.jpg (80679 bytes)Guam's Historic Role in WWII

The Japanese invaded Guam just hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 8, 1941. The Japanese 18th Naval Air Unit based on Saipan bombed and strafed the island for two days while the island people fled to the jungles for protection. The attack damaged the Marine Barracks at Orote Point, the Pan American Airways Clipper Base and Hotel, the Trans Pacific Cable Station, oil storage tanks, and the harbor village of Sumay.

JAPANESE INVASION OF GUAM

In the early morning of December 10, about 5,000 Japanese soldiers invaded from Agana Bay and marched on the government headquarters at the Plaza de Espaņa. They met brief resistance from brave Chamorros of the Guam Militia, who had been ordered there by the American Naval Captain Governor. He had ordered the Marines to defend the Marine Barracks at Orote Point. Overpowering the Chamorros at the Plaza, the Japanese forced the Governor to surrender. Within hours, 427 American military and civilians became prisoners of war, shippeda month later to a Japanese concentration camp near Kobe, Japan. Guam became a part of the Japanese plans for world expansion. Guam was occupied for the next 31 months, and the Chamorros became captives in their own land.

beach.jpg (66674 bytes)LIBERATION OF GUAM

On July 21, 1944, the Americans returned to liberate the island. 50,000 troops stormed across the reef at Asan and Agat, facing 18,000 entrenched Japanese. In the next 21 days of battle, approximately 2,000 Americans and 11,000 Japanese lost their lives. Thousands more were wounded in action. An estimated 700 Chamorros died during the occupation and liberation.

PACIFIC SUPERMARKET

While liberation ended WWII for the Chamorros, it still raged worldwide. Guam became the forward base from which Japan would be invaded. To support the materials and 220,000 troops needed for this invasion, Navy Seabees transformed Guam into what became known as the “Pacific Supermarket,” the world’s largest supply base in WWII.

Large areas of the island and Apra Harbor were reconfigured. Engineers have compared the massive construction to digging the Panama Canal and erecting the Great Pyramids of Egypt. However, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and made the great invasion from Guam unnecessary.

sumay_church.jpg (59157 bytes)SUMAY VILLAGE

The museum is located in the former village of Sumay. After the war, village residents were resettled in Santa Rita, a new village created near Agat. The Sumay Village ruins were then bulldozed and the land incorporated into the new Naval Station, Guam. The Sumay cemetery and the original cross of the former Sumay church remain. If you get a chance, ask the manamko, the elders, about pre-war Sumay. Their stories will charm you.