50th Anniversary of the Invasion of Guam
December 10, 1991

BACKGROUND
Guam, American soil, was invaded by the Japanese on December 10, 1941. Pearl Harbor had just been attacked. The Guam invasion events were so painful to recall that for years no Chamorro spoke openly of their experiences.

A STORY FINALLY TOLD
Until in 1984, Pedro G. Cruz , one of the defenders of the island at the Plaza de España Naval Headquarters, offered his story for the Guam’s Liberation documentary. His moving personal account can be heard in Guam’s Liberation.

Tun Pete’s story served as a catalyst for more island defender members of the pre-war Insular Force Guard to come forward and finally write the history of those terrifying hours when a few poorly armed men faced the overpowering Japanese military forces bearing down on them.

In 1991, when the 50th anniversary of this event was pending, the island leadership saw this as a opportunity to accomplish two things: honor those islanders who had not yet been honored for their bravery. And - use the opportunity to invite those Japanese soldiers who for years had quietly and unobtrusively been returning to Guam on their own pilgrimage to the sites of their own tragedy and memories.

FORMER ENEMIES MEET
Governor Carl TC Gutierrez and Lt Governor Frank F. Blas, along with the full cooperation and participation of Admiral James B. Perkins, III, commander of Naval Forces Marianas and the National Park Service War in the Pacific Park staff, commemorated important events over three days in December. The events ranged from remembering the civilians caught in the initial bombing of Sumay and the Marine Barracks, the honoring of the Chamorro Insular Force Guard ‘s defense of the Naval headquarters on the Plaza de España and the dedication of the National Park Service’s memorial wall at the Asan overlook honoring the American invasion forces. The three days climaxed at the island’s Peace Memorial in Mangilao when for the first time in 50 years the former enemies of the actual invasion and defense forces met face to face. This is the only known meeting of WWII Japanese and American veterans on the nation’s 50th commemoration of the start of WWII. Hawaii’s “Arizona” commemoration committee had not invited foreign veterans to their ceremony.

 

More articles and photos of this historic event:

50th Anniversary Photos

Surrender of Guam to the Japanese

The National Park Service on Guam

Marianas Military Museum Site*

Insular Force Guard Honored

Forgiveness Evolves

House Commends Guamanians for WWII Sacrifices

Japanese Veterans to Visit Guam

Japanese Vet Returns to "Homeland"

Unsung Heroes

 

*After 9/11 museum access for the public was permitted
only through special permission of the Commanding
Officer, Naval Station Marianas. In 2004 the museum
collection was scheduled to be acquired through
donation to the National Park Service, War in the
Pacific Museum.

 

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