LIBERATION Guam Remembers
A Golden Salute for the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Guam
Liberating Guam (continued)
As landing craft stream toward the Asan
shore, other amphibious tractors have already reached the beach. At top
of photo, on right, destroyers are maneuvering offshore to provide
covering fire for the men of the 3rd Marine Division.
STALLED AT CHORITO CLIFF
To the east at Asan, Japanese troops emerged from
their caves to take gun positions on Chorito (misnamed Chonito in 1944)
Cliff. From their positions they fired down on the 3d Marines as they
landed ashore. They waited and watched as American troops advanced on
the steep, difficult terrain below Chorito.
"Nearly half my old company lies dead on the barren
slopes of Chonito Cliff. Four times they tried to reach the top. Four
times they were thrown back. They had to break out of a 20-yard beach
head to make way for later landing waves. They attacked up a 60-degree
slope, protected only by sword grass, and were met by a
storm of grenades and heavy rifle, machine-gun and
"The physical act of forward motion required the use
of both hands. As a consequence they were unable to return the enemy
fire effectively. Most of the casualties were at the bottom of the slope.
They had been hit as they left cover." . . . Sgt. Cyril O'Brien, 3rd
3-6 June 1942
U.S. Navy carriers under Admiral Nimitz confront carriers of a fleet
commanded by Japan's Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in the Battle of Midway.
After an initial Japanese air strike on Midway Island, U.S. Navy pilots
seize the advantage when they catch Japanese aircraft on carrier decks
refueling and rearming. At battle's end, sunk are the Japanese carriers
Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu and the Akagi. Although the Yorktown sinks following
the battle, the U.S. victory would prove to be a critical turning point
of the war in the Pacific.
Minesweepers clear the way to the Agat
shoreline while smaller craft carry the first Marines to assault the
beach. A burning minesweeper shows that the battle has already begun in
this aerial view of the beachhead.
7 June 1942
Japanese invade the American possessions of Attu and Kiska in the
western region of the Aleutian islands in Alaska. The two islands. Wake
Island, and Guam are the only American territories occupied by the
Japanese in World War II. Indigenous Aleut native Americans are
evacuated by U.S. from the island chain and transferred to vacant
canneries and other facilities in the Alaskan panhandle; the transfer
devastates Aleut traditional culture.
Marines from the 3rd Marine Division
churn toward the Asan shore on invasion day. These Marines, possibly
from the 3rd Regiment, were given the task of rushing inland to capture
cliffs and high ground, and prepare for further action to the east and
A Marine takes cover upon hitting the
beach; in foreground are what appears to be the legs of a comrade,
perhaps wounded. Note the proximity to the shoreline of the destroyer
in background (left). In Agat, Marine Captains Paul O'Neal and Milton
Thompson plant the Stars and Stripes just eight minutes after U.S.
forces land and attack the beachhead (right).
In Asan, Chorito Cliff and the
beach below are engulfed in smoke from artillery, bombs, mortars;
Marines rushing ashore at Red Beach 1, about center of photo, are met
with intense fire from the hills and the cliff above.
After intense fighting, the guns on Chorito Cliff
were finally silenced by a destroyer and American tanks. And by the
night of the first day in Asan, the beach was secured.
"Casualties here in one day exceeded the entire
division casualties at Bougainville." . . The 3rd Marine Division
During the first night at Asan, the Marines
encountered only light shelling and occasional patrols by the
22 July 1942
Trying to push southward to extend its battle lines closer to
Australia, Japan begins its Papua campaign with the objective of
capturing Port Moresby. Soldiers attempt overland route through
extremely dense jungle and rough terrain.
FIRST NIGHT IN AGAT
The goals of capturing Agat village, Gaan Point, and
Bangi Point, and moving inland from 1,300 to 2,300 yards had been
achieved in spite of Japanese resistance.
"The enemy had his defenses ashore, consisting of
numerous pillboxes built in coral outcroppings, well organized. Concrete
blockhouses, located on Gaan Point, held a 75mm and a 37mm gun which
enfiladed the beaches . . . The emplacements did not show through the
scattered clouds on aerial photographs available prior to the landing.
The block houses formed large sand covered mounds, and many palm trees
made detection difficult." Maj. O.R. Lodge, Recapture of Guam
"They were waiting for us ... and there's blood
immediately with that kind of artillery. The half-inch armored plate
sheathing our amphibious tractors was not much protection." "Only the
first wave was allowed to fire," ... "After that there was too much
danger of hitting your own men."
"On Yellow Beach 2 we lost 75 men in an area the size
of a football field, most of them in the first 10 minutes, ... And for
every dead man, there are always two to three wounded. Our company had
the most casualties of any in our battalion. ... "We were at point blank
range, no place to go except straight ahead." ... Raymond G.
Schroeder, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade
That night the Japanese attempted counterattacks in
Agat. Led, by tanks, the Japanese mounted serious attacks from the
north, east and south. These attacks were ultimately repulsed.
"We had quite an eventful night, completely
separated from all other friendly forces by several hundred yards of
rice paddy. Our instructions were to dig in and hold Hill #40, and this
we did in spite of the night long 'banzai's' . Credit for our success
goes to our company commander then First Lt. Stormy Sexton (one of the
Marine Corps legendary heroes) and to our veteran NCOs. It was quite a
night!" ... Charles H. Meacham, 4th Marines
Marines jump off an amphibious tractor
and take cover after landing at the beachhead.
"The executive officer of Battery A, Pack Howitzer
Battalion, 4th Marines described that night: "At 2330, I challenged two
figures edging along the side of the crater, but they turned out to be
communicators checking a wire line. ... 30 minutes later, I saw four figures
creeping along the same line, but when I challenged them, they hit the
ground and rolled away from the hole, muttering in Japanese.
The "Gunny" in the hole with me threw a grenade,
killing one and the other three were picked off by the gun sections.
After this, reports of crawling figures starting coming in from gun
sections and outposts all around the battery. Simultaneously with these
reports, fire missions started pouring in. By about 0130, we were up to
our necks in fire missions and infiltrating Japanese. Every so often, I
had to call a section out for a short time so it could take care of the
intruders with carbines and then I would send it back into action again.
Somehow, one Japanese nambu machine gunner managed to get between our
guns and the front lines and all night harassed us with fire." ...
Maj. O.R. Lodge, Recapture of Guam
On 22 July, the Agat invasion force expanded its
beachhead including the securing of the summit of Mount Alifan.
The night of the 22nd brought only isolated contacts
with Japanese patrols. The following day, the 22nd Marines moved north
to cut the neck of Orote Peninsula and encountered Japanese
strong points that could not be taken.
However, the next day, a coordinated attack resulted
in the neck of Orote Peninsula being secured and the Japanese there
isolated. By this time, more units of the Army's 77th Infantry Division
had been brought ashore and placed into the line on the south and east
of the beachhead. Both the 4th and 22nd Marines consolidated into a line
at the neck of Orote Peninsula.
7 August 1942
In first U.S. amphibious operation of war, the 1st Marine Division
lands at Guadalcanal. the largest island of the Solomons, Unveiled is
the tactical blueprint for taking the war through the Pacific to Japan:
a landing force attacks as aircraft and naval gunfire, in close support,
strike at enemy ground forces. The Japanese, after months of bitter
fighting, withdraw from Guadalcanal in February 1943.
Members of A Company 22nd Marines take a
break on the slope of a knoll about 1,000 yards north of Agat in this
photo taken on July 23, 1944.
Soldiers of the Army's 77th Infantry
Division take cover as they use a cannon to blast away at a Japanese
pillbox in the drive to take Orote Peninsula.
BUNDSCHU RIDGE A STRUGGLE
In Asan from July 22 to 24, the 3rd Marines struggled
to gain Bundschu Ridge on the east.
"This ridge was named on board ship for Capt. Geary
R. Bundschu, Company A commander, whose unit was as signed the mission
of taking this terrain feature. Ironically, it was the fighting on this
ridge that took his life." ... Maj. O.R. Lodge, Recapture of Guam
The Marines were pinned in a gully. Japanese mortar
and machine gun fire hit the Marines as they attempted to gain a
foothold of the ridge. After bitter and intense fighting, the Marines
suffered 615 casualties before Bundschu Ridge was taken.
In the center the 21st Marines had achieved, also
after rough fighting, the first ridgeline inland. On the west, the 9th
Marines had moved southwest along the coast and taken Piti and Cabras
Island by a minor amphibious assault.