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

Returning American Vet Meets Family
of Man He Killed in WWII

by Annette Donner

Maury Williams and Kiyomi Kawakubo hugged recently, healing a 53-year-old wound. Williams, a Marine Corporal in the 3rd Marine Division in WWII, had finally met the family of the Japanese soldier he killed in 1944.

The older brother of the man he hugged, Mitsuo Kawakubo and Williams locked eyes on a Guam jungle path in Yigo 53 years ago...and Williams shot first.

Williams, a Marine corporal in the 21st Regiment, Special Weapons Company, has been haunted by the memory ever since.

Through contact in 1997 with Guam history buff Frances Siguenza, Williams was able to contact the Kawakubo family in Japan.  Williams began planning the return of items he had removed from Kawakubo's body...and making peace with the victim of his personal act of war.

"At that time it was not a personal issue, it was a time of war, and now is my chance to do what is right, " says Williams. Kawakubo told Williams, he would have done the same thing under the same circumstances.

When the family was found residing in the Kochi Prefecture in Japan, they were amazed to hear that their eldest brother had not been lost at sea as reported, but had died in the Guam jungle. They had not known Kawakubo, a Navy communications specialist, was stationed on Guam.

Two brothers, a sister and four nieces of the Kawakubo family flew from Japan to meet Williams September 24th. The ceremony was held at the last command post of the Japanese, in Mataguac, Yigo, at the South Pacific Peace Memorial. Williams returned the last item, a small Japanese flag Mitsuo Kawakubo had carried in his hat. Williams and wife Sue had lovingly placed it in a small cut-glass box for the presentation.

Maury Williams and his wife Sue, from Dayton, Ohio, were flown to Guam courtesy of Continental Micronesia, and were guests at Government House for two days.

"This is closure on this chapter of the war for me," says Williams.

"I am more fortunate than most veterans to have this opportunity."