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Ask Joyce: Can you explain what happened on Guam on July 21, 1944?

  • Published
  • By Joyce I. Martratt
  • 36th Wing
Let's visualize, hear and feel the presence of American battleships, cruisers and destroyers slightly off the Agat and Asan beaches in early dawn of July 21, 1944. Deadly explosions of shell bombardments lit the shores like fireworks. 

More than three hours later, the 3rd Marine Division landed at Asan and the 1st Provisional Brigade at Agat. The enemies were clustered in caves high above Asan Beach --Chorito Cliff - where they watched the Marines below. 

Soon after, they pounded the Marines with artillery fire. The situation was a bloody mess. At Agat, the 1st Provisional Brigade received a fierce artillery onslaught from the Marines positioned at Gaan and Bangi points. The 1st Battalion 22nd Regiment pushed through Agat and Brig. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. set up his command post about 200 yards southeast of Gaan Point. 

In Agana, the Marines fought fiercely and took Adelup point. At the same time, other Marines pushed forward to the north and further to the south battling the enemies.
According to written accounts, as ferocious fighting continued between the Marines and the enemies, Lt. Gen. Takeshi Takashina brought in reinforcements for a brutal assault on the Americans. After many deaths on both sides, the enemies' resistance came to a halt and they surrendered. 

These accounts only touch a bit on Guam's liberation. More detailed written accounts showed how, on this important date of July 21, 1944, liberation began for the Chamorros after 32 months of captivity. As a matter of fact, many Chamorros who were placed in concentration camps throughout the island didn't even know how many Americans captured the island since so many gave the ultimate sacrifice - their lives - on the sands, the dense and difficult hills of Guam and in the jungle. And like the Americans, many Chamorros gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect America with loyalty, patriotism and death. 

Survivors have recounted how as word of the Americans recapturing Guam got around, the Chamorros prayed and gave thanks to God and asked for blessings upon the liberators. As they were brought out of concentration camps - from Manenggon River Valley; Asinan in Yona - many were holding tiny American flags that were protected as priceless testaments of their loyalty to America. 

On July 21, let us close our eyes and look back to those moments and feel the pain and the anguish of the people -- Chamorros, Americans and Japanese - that permeate throughout this tiny island in the Pacific. Let us give thanks and extend a hand of peace to one another. Let us instead let go of the past and work to turn Guam into an island where liberty and respect for one another become our flaming torch.

si Joyce I. Martratt

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