IN SOLEMN MEMORY OF WAR

IN SOLEMN MEMORY OF WAR

by Guam Visitors Bureau
Stripes Guam

Guam is home to more than a dozen World War II sites. Each offers a unique perspective on the war. Many are accessible only on foot via hiking trails, so make sure you are prepared with suitable clothing, footwear, sunscreen, and water. And of course, a camera can be one of the best ways to capture history, allowing you to share this special part of your vacation for years to come.

Although Guam is now an island territory of the United States with a significant military presence, it has not always been an American stronghold. During World War II, its location about 900 miles north of the equator in the Western Pacific made Guam immeasurably valuable to both the Axis and Allied Powers. Guam played a pivotal role in the war and remains a great place to explore history firsthand.

The island has been a possession of the United States since 1898, except for a brief period beginning when the Japanese seized control in December 1941. In July 1944, U.S. Marines landed on both sides of Guam, and by early August their counterattacks had taken a serious toll on Japanese troops, solidifying the U.S. forces’ trek to victory.

History buffs and novices alike could spend days or even weeks delving into Guam’s past as a crucial battleground in World War II.

Dive to explore underwater shipwrecks, or walk a grassy hillside to discover intact weapons shelters. Visit solemn memorials to Japanese and U.S. soldiers. Pay your respects at the sites of the Tinta and Faha massacre that claimed the lives of nearly 50 Chamorro men and women. Guam is also home to the only National Park Service facility dedicated to the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Please be aware, there are two facilities (Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Station Historic Sites) that can only be toured with valid military identification or through a sponsor. Requests from non-military visitors must be received at least three weeks prior to your visit, so be sure to plan accordingly.

War in the Pacific National Historical Park must-see attractions

• Asan Bay Overlook with its panoramic view and its Memorial Wall which contains 16,142 names of Chamorro and American casualties who suffered or died during the war on Guam.

• Ga’an Historic guns at Ga’an point include a 20cm short-barrel Japanese Coastal Defense Gun and a Twin Mount 25mm antiaircraft gun. Ga’an point is where 55,000 US Marines and Army Infantrymen stormed the shores to begin the recapture of the island.

• Liberator’s Memorial commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam. This monument honors the armed forces that participated in the 1944 landing on Guam.

• Over 3,500 marine species and 200 species of coral that are located within the scuba and snorkeling areas of park waters including the endangered hawksbill sea turtle and the threatened green sea turtle.

• Over 100 historical sites, caves, bunkers, pill boxes, emplacements, latrine foundations, plaques, and structures that can be seen throughout War in the Pacific’s landscape.

- War in the Pacific National Historical Park

Help needed for Memorial Day flag display

War in the Pacific National Historical Park will host a commemorative flag display at Asan Beach on May 24 in observance of Memorial Day.  As part of Memorial Day events at national parks across the nation, over 3,050 United States and Guam flags will be placed at Asan Beach.

Each U.S. flag will represent one of the 1,880 U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were killed or died from wounds suffered during the 1941 Japanese invasion and 1944 battle to liberate Guam. 

Each Guam flag will represent one of the 1,170 Chamorro people who died during the Japanese occupation and battle for Guam.

The flags will be installed by volunteers beginning Saturday May 24 and will be on public display until Tuesday, May 27.  Volunteer support is needed.  If you are interested in helping, please sign up by calling Ben Hayes at 333-4051.

Please join War in the Pacific National Historical Park for Memorial Day weekend as we remember and honor those that died serving our nation.  For more information, call 333-4050 or visit: www.nps.gov/wapa

- War in the Pacific National Historical Park

Asan Bay Overlook Memorial Wall

“This park, this wall, stands as a great testimony to the courage, heroism and sacrifice of two groups of people who came together in the name of freedom some 50 years ago—one was in uniform and the other was in rags; one used weapons of war and the other used tools for survival; one came in from the sea and the other came down from the hills; one left their families behind and the other tried to keep their families with them; and one liberated the island from without while the other liberated the island from within.”

- Excerpt from Delegate Underwood’s Speech, National Park Memorial Wall Dedication, July 19, 1994, Guam

NAMES ON THE WALL

• U.S. Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen who died during the Battle for Guam; July 21, 1944 – Aug. 10, 1944 – 1,857 (+ 5 added since 1996 = 1,862)

• People of Guam who died as a result of the Occupation of Guam; Dec. 8, 1941 - July 21, 1944 – 1,122 (+ 1 added since 1996 = 1,123)

• People of Guam who suffered personal injury, forced labor, forced march, or internment as a result of the Occupation of Guam; Dec. 8, 1941 - July 21, 1944 - 13,163 (+107 added since 1996 = 13,270)

• Total names on the Wall: 16,142 (including 113 added since 1976)

Note: On March 20, the National Park Service awarded a contract to Danes Construction Corporation of Guam to Rehabilitate the Asan Bay Overlook Memorial Wall. Originally completed in 1994, it was damaged by theft in 2007. The work includes demolition and replacement of 56 existing bronze and 34 existing acrylic panels inscribed with names. The work was slated to start in late April and be completed July 21 (Liberation Day). More information on planned construction work will be announced at a later date. The renovation will also add 1,629 more names to the wall.

- Source: NPS

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea

Recommended Content